‘There was a good chance I could miss’: Lindt cafe hostage’s plan to stab gunman

‘If you wait, someone is going to die’Monis agreed to let Katrina Dawson leaveLindt worker Fiona Ma breaks downJarrod Morton-Hoffman tells of dramatic escapeTori Johnson’s triple zero call
Nanjing Night Net

The hours were ticking over in the Lindt Cafe and any hope hostage Joel Herat held of getting out alive was diminishing.

He noticed when Man Haron Monis, the gunman holding him and 17 others hostage, would put down his gun.

When he sat down and ate or lit up a cigarette, the bandanna-wearing Monis would rest his sawn-off shotgun across his legs.

It was then Mr Herat thought of brandishing the pair of scissors in his apron pocket and stabbing him in the neck.

“At the time I thought maybe if I could maim him or stab him that could be a chance for people to get out,” he told an inquest into the 2014 siege on Monday.

“I thought about it, I played it out in my mind that if I missed, and there was a good chance I would miss, he could kill someone then and there.”

On multiple occasions on December 15, 2014, Mr Herat played out the scenario in his head.

But the risk of missing his target and having Monis spray the cafe full of hostages with bullets was too high.

“If I did something it could help and get us out of there but if it didn’t it could be a catastrophe,” the 22-year-old said.

As Monis’ behaviour in the cafe grew more erratic and aggressive, Mr Herat formed the view that he and the other hostages would be dead by the following morning.

He felt like they had been left there and that no progress had been made to get them out, the inquest heard.

Mr Herat told the inquest Monis was aggravated that his demands – including getting an Islamic State flag in exchange for releasing a hostage – were not being met.

But Mr Herat formed the view that if Monis received the flag, “he would probably kill someone anyway and wrap their body in it”.

He also recounted how Monis encouraged some hostages to call their families to say their last goodbyes.

“Looking back at it now in hindsight that may have contributed to what I was thinking ,that it wasn’t going to get any better if he was getting people to say their last goodbyes,” Mr Herat said.

The inquest heard his opportunity to escape came about 2am, when Monis, with hostage Fiona Ma in front of him and Selina Win Pe holding onto his backpack, moved towards the back fire exit.

Mr Herat said he then looked at hostage Jarrod Morton-Hoffman, who said he was going to get some help, before he went out the cafe doors.

Mr Herat grabbed the arm of fellow employee Harriette Denny to make sure they were going out of the cafe at the same speed.

He said he heard two gunshots as they escaped and felt “bullets whizzing past my ears”.

“I thought he (Monis) was going to come out and follow us on to Martin Place and shoot us dead or shoot whoever was left in the cafe,” he said.

Mr Herat was one of six hostages who fled the cafe at 2.04am, minutes before Monis lined up cafe manager Tori Johnson and shot him.

The inquest has heard Monis singled out Mr Johnson, telling him that if police came in he would be the first person to die.

Hours before Mr Herat fled the cafe, hostages Elly Chen and April Bae made their escapes.

Ms Chen told the inquest she crawled under a table after hearing the noises of three other hostages escaping earlier in the afternoon.

She found Ms Bae and watched as she worked on pulling a latch down on a door over a five minute period.

“She said that it was her mum’s birthday and she needed to escape,” Ms Chen, 23, told the inquest.

“She said that she would just open the door and leave.”

Before Ms Chen fled the cafe – gravely concerned Monis may kill her – she sent a text to her friend.

“If I don’t talk to you tonight, it’s all good,” she wrote.

“I’ll see you on the other side.”

One of the first things she told police after she escaped was that Monis was nice, she said.

“He kept telling us he was a nice person, he was giving us water, giving us food … I guess it was a manipulation thing but I believed him that he was nice,” Ms Chen said.

The inquest continues.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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