Man who set ablaze bus driver in Brisbane allegedly has a history of mental illness

Alisher, who was a well-known singer in the Punjabi community, was driving a Brisbane City Council bus when he was targeted by the man who threw an "incendiary device" at him which sparked a fire.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 28, 2016 10:23 pm
Brisbane, Australia bus driver, Brisbane bus driver, Manmeet Alisher, Brisbane bus driver death, Manmeet Alisher death Meanwhile, the Punjabi community in Brisbane expressed shock over the death of Manmeet Alisher, also known as Manmeet Sharma. (Source: Manmeet Alisher Facebook page)

Brisbane police seem to have arrested the man who allegedly burned to death 29-year-old Indian-origin bus driver Manmeet Alisher after he poured some flammable liquid on him in front of several shocked passengers in Brisbane, Australia. According to reports in Daily Mail, police have charged a 48-year-old Morooka man, identified as Anthony O’Donohue for the crime. Reports also suggest that he may have a history of mental illness. Alisher, who was a well-known singer in the Punjabi community, was driving a Brisbane City Council bus when he was targeted by the man who threw an “incendiary device” at him which sparked a fire.

Alisher died on the spot. Six passengers were rushed to a nearby hospital for smoke inhalation and minor injuries, said police. Police said there was “no apparent motive” including terror or race related. A 48-year-old man was taken into custody over the incident.

Detectives from South Brisbane district and the state crime command’s homicide group have commenced a homicide
investigation, Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said. Preliminary inquiries indicate just after 9 AM (local time) passengers were boarding a bus on Beaudesert Road when a man threw an item at the driver causing fire, police said.

Manmeet Alisher (Second from left) with friends and family. (Source: Manmeet Alisher Facebook page)

Police said the bus, carrying six passengers, pulled into Moorvale Shopping Centre on Beaudesert Road to pick up three passengers when the incident took place. Flags will be flown at half mast across Brisbane tomorrow as a mark of respect for the Alisher. Stewart ruled out any possibilities of the attack being a racially motivated one, saying there was no such indication. “There is no evidence at this time of any linkage to terrorist-type activities and certainly that has not become evident through the ongoing investigations that have occurred. We do not believe there is any evidence at this stage linking this to a racial complaint or concern by either of the people involved,” Stewart said.

“While we do not know the actual motive at this stage, I want to reassure the community that we take these incidents very seriously and that is why as a precaution, officers from the state security and counter terrorism group have also been involved,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Punjabi community in Brisbane expressed shock over the death of Manmeet Alisher, also known as Manmeet Sharma. “Words escape me, it is a horrific incident here in the quiet suburb of Moorooka,” Queensland Police Superintendent Jim Keogh said.

“A bus driver, going about doing his business, supporting the community, has had his life taken from him in what is a senseless and needless act. The fire was substantial, he would have stood little chance,” he said.

Keogh said the passengers were visibly shaken and considered themselves lucky. “It is lucky the whole bus did not become engulfed in flames. They are traumatised… it was rather rapid,” he said. Meanwhile, a taxi driver Aguek Nyok, who was walking past the bus when the fire broke out, said he kicked in the bus’s back door to free trapped passengers.

“Unfortunately I could not go inside because there were fumes. It was smoky, you cannot even think of going there, and the fire was getting higher and higher,” he said. Stewart said, “we understand several passengers on board
the bus at the time managed to escape via the rear door and I also understand that is partly because of the heroic the actions of a taxi driver”.

“Our top priority now is to assist the loved ones of the bus driver who sadly perished in this incident,” Stewart said. State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also expressed her shock and said the thoughts of Queenslanders were with him. “I was absolutely shocked to hear today in the middle of the Domestic and Family Violence summit that a young bus driver had lost his life in such horrendous circumstances,” she said.

“Police Commissioner has advised me that the police are continuing to undertake investigations around this matter.
There were witnesses on the bus as well, and once again our hearts go out to the family of that young bus driver killed in such horrendous circumstances,” Palaszczuk said.

Brisbane Mayor Graham Quirk said, “it is a very, very sad day for council and the wider community to see the loss of one of our drivers and in this way”. He said the council would pay tribute to Alisher. “One thing we will be doing as an organisation tomorrow is to fly the flags of Brisbane at half mast as a mark of respect to our bus operator. It is just a very, very sad set of circumstances,” Quirk said.

He said an onboard camera captured the attack. “Footage has been provided to the Queensland Police Service to assist them with their investigations at this time. The advice that I am getting from police is that this is a random act,” Quirk said. Deputy Mayor Adrian Schrinner said council’s thoughts and prayers were with the driver’s relatives and friends.

“We lost a member of the Council family, the Brisbane family, today with the senseless and inexplicable murder of
one of our bus drivers. The best thing we can do as a community at this time is to show all of our bus drivers the
appreciation and respect we have for them,” Schrinner said.

Local councillor Steve Griffiths said a vigil will be held tomorrow at 5.30 PM (local time) to pay tribute to bus driver. Transport Workers’ Union Queensland Secretary Peter Biagini said, “Our hearts go out to everybody affected by this terrible incident, and praise the quick thinking taxi driver who helped get people off the bus”.

According to The Brisbane times, there have been over 350 assaults on bus drivers across Queensland in the past six
(With PTI inputs)

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  1. O
    Ordinary Indian
    Oct 28, 2016 at 5:45 pm
    What crime out there cannot be clified as mental illness??
  2. S
    Oct 28, 2016 at 10:30 pm
    VOW if the killer would had been a muslim he would termed as terrorist
  3. A
    Oct 28, 2016 at 9:03 pm
    Hope 'Mental Illness' is not a cover up ???
  4. F
    Oct 31, 2016 at 3:45 pm
    Yes it is all a big political cover up. We want the Indians to hear just so that the government can get the secret service to murder them off and cover it all up by claiming that the perpetrator of the crime had a mental illness. That way we can say we have stabilised their condition and set them free in two days so that they can go off and kill another Indian. Great plan the Government has going. They can keep a few killers in permanent employment and don't need to spend heaps training more killers. Best thing to do is avoid Australia like the plague as we are all a bunch of drunken, ignorant, racist, white rednecks who attack foreigners, then stand back and let the government send in the killers to Finnish them off. Just agreeing with you guys. What else can we do.
  5. D
    Oct 31, 2016 at 3:57 pm
    I agree with all you Indians. We live in the land down under, where anything goes including murder. If you hear the crack of thunder, you better run and take cove. Because in the land down under, it is likely to have been a racially motivated murder.
  6. K
    Kay Gee
    Oct 28, 2016 at 9:14 pm
    He is white australian so "it is not racially motivated, it not an act of terror as well". What one can expect from children of prostate and convicts.
  7. R
    Oct 29, 2016 at 12:28 am
    How come indian express write one side of account of incident
  8. L
    Oct 29, 2016 at 1:03 am
    Such a sad loss to his family, his friends, to Australia and the Brisbane community. No, it wasn't a racist attack.
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