‘You could see the moment they stopped living’: inside the Melville tragedy

02 January 2020 - 13:11
By Iavan Pijoos
Campbell Easton, shot in the leg, crawled to a corner and took cover behind a table. He is now recovering in hospital.
Image: Supplied Campbell Easton, shot in the leg, crawled to a corner and took cover behind a table. He is now recovering in hospital.

Campbell Easton looked at his girlfriend and said, “I think I have been shot”.

Then he fell to the ground.

Easton, who survived the deadly Melville shooting on New Year's Day, on Thursday described the incredible compassion shown by strangers who helped the injured as chaos unfolded at Poppy's restaurant.

He was speaking from hospital, where he is being treated for a gunshot wound.

His evening started at a friend’s house on New Year's Eve, when friends decided to go out and celebrate.

Melville is where they chose to be for the countdown to New Year.

“We were bar hopping for a little bit and I think Poppy’s [restaurant] was about the fifth bar that we went to. Everyone was friendly and was having a good time,” he said.

They went to the bar at Poppy’s and purchased drinks. One of their friends was not feeling well and went outside for some fresh air.

“I left my girlfriend and another friend on the dance floor and went outside to check on my other friends who were outside.

“By that time people were setting off fire crackers in the streets, so we were used to hearing noises. It sounded like a bunch of fire crackers were quickly going off next to us.

“It was just popping noises and people just started shifting. I felt like something hit me in my upper thigh, it was not a pain but just felt like someone bumping or hitting me quite hard,” he said

What followed was screaming and chaos.

“My first thought was that I had to get to my girlfriend, and I started walking inside and managed to catch her at the entrance. All I think I said was, ‘I think I have been shot', and then I fell over.”

Easton crawled to a nearby corner and took shelter behind a table.

While revellers scrambled to call emergency services, he asked bystanders to elevate his leg.  

“Once we heard that ambulances and emergency services were on the way my girlfriend started calling family.”

At that stage he was lying on his back and couldn’t see much around him.

His girlfriend, at his side, told him about seeing a man with blood pouring out of his head. Paramedics were performing CPR on a woman on the pavement.  

“She said you could see the moment that they [the women] had stopped living and they [died]," he said.

“There was a guy walking around shirtless, shouting stuff at one of the dead women.”

He described it as an “awful” experience, but during the chaos guardian angels emerged.

A woman whom he had never met put pressure on his wound, staying with him until paramedics arrived.

“I never experienced kindness like that. So many people came by and put hands on me and prayed for me and told me that I was going to be OK,” he said.

He said a friend was also hit, once by a ricochet bullet that bruised him and a second bullet that grazed his spine.

Easton was hit in the upper thigh. “I am wounded but I've got good prospects for recovery.”

CCTV footage of the incident captured the moment when a black SUV drove past the restaurant and bullets flew, killing two people and leaving six others injured.

The footage showed patrons and people outside the establishment falling to the ground as the vehicle went slowly past.