by CAROLINE GAVURA Section Editor
It was a typical summer day in Australia when Man Haron Monis entered the Lindt cafe and pointed a gun to the head of manager Tori Johnson.
Monis had been talking to Johnson at a table with the usual Monday morning crowd bustling around ordering their breakfast.
Some of customers included 83-year-old former Wimbledon player John O’Brien, Louisa Hope, and her mother Robyn who were in the city on vacation, and two software engineers, Pushpendu Ghosh and Viswakanth Ankireddy.
Little attention was paid to Monis who sat at the table with a bag at his feet.
He stood up and ordered the customers to stand up with their hands up, announcing that he was a representative of the Islamic State and that he was carrying out a terrorist attack.
Monis told the crowd that there were bombs located in the building and that they were expected to follow all of his instructions.
A woman approached the cafe and banged on the doors to be let in, but Monis waved the gun in her direction to let it be known no one was leaving or entering the building.
The woman alerted the police and soon the cafe was surrounded by police and a crowd.
Hostages were pressed to the glass of the window, forced to hold up a black and white flag bearing the Islamic creed, “There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God” in calligraphic Arabic.
“That was terrifying. I felt so bad for the people trapped inside, but also the Muslim people in Australia. Yet again, Islam was being twisted and screwed to justify an act of terrorism,” said senior Michelle Barclay.
Throughout the day, Monis forced the hostages to call media outlets and tell them his demands, which were not reported at the request of police.
Some videos were even published of captives being forced to recite the demands of Monis with the flag hanging behind them.
The captives were terrified; some were sobbing uncontrollably and others vomited out of pure fear.
Rumors about what was really going on in the cafe were spreading like wildfire on social media.
The hashtag #IllRideWithYou was trending to support Muslims in Australia who were scared of being attacked if they left their homes.
Thousands of people tweeted their location with the hashtag, offering to “ride” with Muslims to work, out to eat, or to any other place they needed to go in order to make them feel safe.
“I loved the hashtag idea. Seeing all of the kind people offer their help to Muslims made light of an otherwise dark and scary situation. It really brought a smile to my face,” said senior Cori Haider.
Some of the hostages were able to escape through the fire door and other back entries, but it was not until around two AM that the remaining captives decided to bust down the door.
Soon after the door was down and hostages started fleeing, police rushed in and a 30-second gunfight commenced.
Four of the hostages were injured, while Johnson and worker Katrina Dawson were killed during the shooting, along with Monis.
Did you follow the news about the Sydney situation? How did you react?