On Monday morning, a 50-year-old gunman named Man Haron Monis burst into the Lindt Chocolat Cafe and took 17 people hostage. Sixteen hours later, the siege ended with a wave of gunfire that left two hostages and the Iranian-born gunman dead. The two victims were Lindt cafe manager, Tori Johnson, and barrista Katrina Dawson, who died protecting her pregnant colleague against the gunman.
Monis was a refugee who called himself a cleric. He was wanted by police in connection with the murder of his ex-wife. He had also been charged with more than 40 counts of assault. He was recently convicted for sending nasty letters to families of Australian troops killed in Afghanistan, calling those families’ deceased loved ones “killers” and “murderers”.
Six hours into the crisis, three men were seen running from a fire exit of the cafe. Shortly afterwards, two women, one after another, sprinted from the cafe.
During the stand-off, Monis forced some hostages to hold a flag with Islamic declarations of faith above the shop window's festive "Merry Christmas" sign. Television footage shot through the cafe's windows also showed several people with their arms in the air and hands pressed against the glass.
Police stormed the cafe around 2am on Tuesday when they heard gunfire inside, said New South Wales state police commissioner Andrew Scipione.
"They made the call because they believed that at that time, if they didn't enter, there would have been many more lives lost," he said.
"This is a very disturbing incident," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. "It is profoundly shocking that innocent people should be held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation."