WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A New Zealand man who couldn't afford to buy beer at a supermarket pleaded guilty Wednesday to stabbing and injuring four people at the store during a frenzied attack.
Luke James Lambert, 42, will face up to 14 years in prison when he is sentenced next year on four counts of attempted murder.
Shoppers and staff at the Countdown supermarket in the city of Dunedin were praised for their bravery during the May attack after authorities said they managed to stop the man from hurting others. Three of the victims suffered severe wounds but all have since recovered.
Less than four months after the attack by Lambert, an extremist inspired by the Islamic State group stabbed shoppers at an Auckland supermarket in an unrelated attack, injuring seven before he was shot and killed by police.
In the earlier attack, prosecutors said Lambert visited the supermarket and bought a soda drink but didn't have enough money to buy two cans of beer, according to the Otago Daily Times newspaper.
He later complained to an associate about not getting access to medication, although authorities could find no evidence he was denied any prescription drugs.
“Someone’s going to get it,” Lambert told his associate, according to the newspaper.
Lambert then returned to the store and grabbed a pack of four knives from a shelf and slashed the face of a worker who was stocking items in the pharmacy aisle.
He then climbed on top of her and continued stabbing her, saying he was going to kill her. As a store manager and two shoppers tried to intervene, he stabbed them as well, the newspaper reported, citing court documents.
Supermarket staff, shoppers and off-duty police managed to restrain Lambert at the store and perform first aid on the victims, helping to save lives.
New Zealand Police Superintendent Paul Basham said at the time their actions were “nothing short of heroic.”
Lambert is scheduled to be sentenced in May.
Dunedin is home to about 130,000 people, including a large number of students who attend the University of Otago.