Four members of the public have been stabbed at Murrays Bay on Auckland’s North Shore. Video / NZ Herald
A boy was left bleeding on the floor of an Auckland shopping centre after he was stabbed in the back by someone believed to be a member of his friend group, witnesses say.
And while it’s the first stabbing retailers can recall, several staffers say fights between school-aged children were commonplace in that part of the mall.
It comes as new figures reveal at least one Aucklander is hospitalised with stabbing injuries every day, sparking fresh concerns about community safety across the city.
Emergency services were called to WestCity Waitakere shopping centre in Henderson after 3.35pm on Friday last week following reports of an altercation that led to two people suffering stab wounds.
It occurred just inside the centre’s level two entrance near the corner of Edsel St and Railside Ave, in view of stores including Millers, Unichem Pharmacy, Specsavers, Jebs Clothing, Lotto and OPSM.
It was initially believed only one person had been seriously injured and was taken to Auckland Hospital.
However, police later updated that information, saying a second person was moderately injured after being stabbed.
Both were recovering well, according to police.
Many customers and retailers witnessed the incident, causing some to run from the scene or hide in nearby shops.
One staffer, who was working in the Millers clothing store, said the incident was sparked within a group of about 10 school-aged boys who looked to be about 16-17 years old.
Several members of the group started throwing backpacks at each other, before some grabbed chairs from the nearby Muffin Break cafe and began hurling them.
“That’s when they went into fist-fighting,” the Millers staffer said.
From what she saw, the staffer believed much of the fighting was between two boys.
A staffer at the nearby clothing store Autograph said the incident caused people dining at Muffin Break cafe to run away.
Several retailers spoke of the excessive swearing and yelling involved during the fight, but none could make out what was said.
Once security guards had broken up the fight, the Millers staffer realised one boy was bleeding from his back but didn’t know how he had been injured.
“He was bleeding pretty bad.”
The staffer said she didn’t see a knife but did wonder whether it had been the chair legs that had caused the stabbing injuries.
Police did not confirm to the Herald whether officers had determined what weapon was used during the fight as enquiries were still being made.
Muffin Break supervisor Gagan Ghuman said no blood had been found on any of the chair legs, suggesting they did not cause the wounds.
The group of 10 appeared to know each other and were reportedly together in the shopping centre prior to the incident.
On his store’s first day of opening in the mall, Infinity Phones director Vikas Kumar said he saw some of the boys enter his shop and they seemed to be friends.
Other retailers made a similar observation, noting they appeared to be from the same group.
The Millers staffer said such incidents happened often, specifically in that part of the shopping centre.
“At least once a week, there’s a fight.
“It’s like the meet-up spot, that’s what we call it.”
Other retailers told the Herald there had been previous fights in that area.
Shopping centre management declined to provide data relating to the number of incidents recorded and did not address whether that location had hosted previous fights, when asked by the Herald.
Another staffer, who asked to have her name and business remain anonymous, saw the incident unfold before a woman and her two children hid from the fight in her store.
“[The woman] was very scared, she was hiding her two children.”
While the staffer didn’t see a weapon, she was told the following day through an associate that the woman with two children had run into her store because she had seen a knife.
The staffer then saw a woman who appeared to be the injured boy’s mother, comforting her son.
“The boy fell on the mother and said, ‘I’ve been stabbed’.”
The staffer watched as a bystander – claiming to be a nurse – grabbed a piece of clothing from a nearby store to put pressure on the wound before ambulance staff arrived.
“It’s not safe in this community,” the staffer said.
“It’s common to have fights but stabbings, that’s the first.”
Detective Senior Sergeant Megan Goldie thanked members of the public who had provided information about the incident, but encouraged others to come forward.
“We continue to ask anyone with information that could assist with inquiries to contact us on 105.”
A shopping centre spokesman said security guards defused the fight quickly and escorted four people involved out of the premises.
The spokesman said the safety of retailers and customers was taken seriously and they would assist the police investigation.
“We will continue to work collaboratively with our retailers to ensure we are creating a safe environment for everyone who attends WestCity Waitakere.”