December 8, 1987
Frank Vitkovic (22) begins a shooting spree ending in the deaths of 9 including himself
At 4:20 p.m., Vitkovic entered a building on Queen Street in Melbourne and briefly spoke with a former friend — and apparent primary target — before he drew a sawed off M1 carbine he had concealed in a paper bag. The friend was able to move to cover, and Vitkovic began to fire indiscriminately, striking the first victim, 19-year-old Judith Morris.
Vitkovic moved from the fifth floor of the building to the 12th where he fatally shot Julie Fay McBean (20), Nancy Avigone (18), and Warren David Spencer (29). Vitkovic next moved to the 11th floor where he fatally shot Michael Francis McGuire (38), Marianne Jacoba Ewyk (38), Catherine Mary Dowling (28), and Rodney Gerard Brown (32).
While on the 11th floor, Vitkovic was grabbed from behind from an employee. After he was disarmed, another employee grabbed Vitkovic’s weapon which she hid in a refrigerator. More employees joined in the struggle in an attempt to subdue Vitkovic, resulting in a window being broken. The struggle continued onto the ledge until Vitkovic kicked away from those who attempted to restrain him. He fell 11 floors to his death. Reportedly, Vitkovic said, “I can’t take it any more,” before he fell.
The entire incident from the first shot to Vitkovic’s death took approximately 10 minutes. Nine people, including the perpetrator, were killed and 5 seriously injured.
A document, left behind by Vitkovic which was treated as a suicide note, gave a glimpse into his motives. In the note, he mentioned he experienced “violent impulses” which ran “through my whole body.” Vitkovic, who had dropped out of law school earlier in the year, also apologized to his family for being a “failure” and wrote, “I should have listened to pop and not played so much tennis instead of sticking to my law studies and things might be different today.” Additionally, in a diary entry dated November 19, 1987, Vitkovic wrote about how to identify others who may want to cause mass amounts of violence. “I don’t care if you make public the contents of this diary. I wrote it in part for myself, in part for society to understand how these things happen and why and how you can pick out people who might be able to do such things. Look for people with a history of rejection, loneliness and ill treatment who also have a fascination for guns and you won’t go wrong.”
Look for people with a history of rejection, loneliness and ill treatment who also have a fascination for guns and you won’t go wrong.
Two of the employees who had attempted to restrain Vitkovic were awarded the Star of Courage while another two were given commendations for bravery. A stained glass window was later constructed as a memorial to the victims. A plaque accompanying the window bears the inscription: “The window above is in loving memory of eight Australia Post and Telecom Credit Union friends and colleagues who were killed at their workplace in Queen Street on 8 December 1987.”
Monument Australia. Accessed: December 8, 2020. https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/culture/crime/display/32264-australian-post-and-telecom-credit-union-victims-memorial
Murphy, Damien. “30 years on from the Queen Street Massacre.” The Age. December 7, 2017. Originally published: December 10, 1987. Accessed: December 8, 2020. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/30-years-on-from-the-queen-street-massacre-20171207-h00hiq.html
“Inside the Mind of a Mass Murderer.” The Sydney Morning Herald. October 8, 1988
Gregory, Peter. “The secret hatred that exploded into mass murder.” The Age [Melbourne, Victoria]. October 8, 1988
“Melbourne Massacre A ‘Copy-Cat’ Killing.” Associated Press. December 10, 1987 (archived: https://apnews.com/article/e4369e16cee2f26c52cc6773006fe2dc)
Wilson, David and Robinson, Paul. “Statistics paint a grim picture of Melbourne as the nation’s gun capital.” The Age. 10 December 1987
Willox, Innes. “Police seek motive for gunman’s rampage.” The Age. 10 December 1987