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Why everyone is talking about 'trolley man' after the Bourke Street Mall attack.

Dozens watched on in horror on Friday afternoon as a lone terrorist set fire to his ute and stabbed multiple people on Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall.

One victim is dead and another two men are in hospital being treated for non life-threatening injuries. The attacker, an unnamed Melbourne man who was known to federal intelligence authorities, was shot by police and died at the scene.

Footage of the incident surfaced on social media within minutes of the incident, which took place shortly after 4pm. In the clips, two police officers can be seen attempting to subdue the knife-wielding man, dodging as he lunges toward them, again and again.

But there’s another person in the footage. A man in grey trousers and black t-shirt runs into the left of the frame. Pushing an empty shopping trolley, he shoves it at the back of the attacker’s legs. His only weapon against the unfolding threat.

WARNING: The following footage contains acts of violence, and may be distressing.

Video via Twitter

This civilian appears to have stuck with officers for more than a minute before the attacker was shot, shoving the trolley at him several times. But as yet, no one knows who this man is. His name, his age, where he’s from.

On social media he is being referred to simply as ‘Trolley Man’.

People on Twitter, Facebook and beyond are hailing his bravery. Several are calling him a hero for running toward the danger and supporting Victoria Police.

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But plenty have also argued he should have kept clear, for his own safety and for the sake of police.

Among them, Police Commissioner Graham Ashton. Speaking to morning television, he said Victoria Police have spoken to ‘Trolley Man’, and while they were grateful that he chose to support officers, Ashton urged others not to put themselves in danger.

“We do ask people to be very cautious in those situations. If a firearm was produced or in fact he lunged at those people they could have been injured and we don’t want that,” Ashton told Sunrise.

“Police were there and were trained and armed to deal with that situation which they did stop nonetheless, it is a spur of the moment thing and people are acting to try to help the police and try to bring about a resolution quickly.

“I do not criticise as people at all stop they had good intentions, but again, we just have to be careful at those times that their actions don’t get them into harm’s way.”

Anyone with information is also urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

Members of the public who witnessed the event and wish to make a statement are asked to attend Melbourne West Police Station at 313 Spencer Street, Melbourne.