At least four people were injured on Thursday when police fired shots at a man who brandished a butcher's knife in a shopping mall in Sydney.
The knife-wielding man was recently reported missing from a nearby psychiatric centre, police said.
"In a life-and-death situation, police had to make a very critical decision on the actions they took," said Denis Clifford, the assistant police commissioner of New South Wales.
"It's alarming, but I wonder what may have happened had the police not intervened and stopped this person."
The confrontation allegedly began when the man carrying the knife approached police, Clifford said.
"The officers each fired shots at the offender. He was wounded several times. Unfortunately some bystanders were also injured with bullet or fragment wounds," he told reporters.
The knife-wielding man is under police guard at hospital, where he is receiving treatment, while the three women, aged between 60 and 82, are in stable conditions, according to police.
Magdy Abdalla, who works in the mall, said he heard gunshots and immediately dropped to the floor.
"I told all of the customers to stay on the floor. I was scared. I just heard the shooting," he said.
"I found three older ladies on the floor bleeding, one injured in the leg, one in the arm and the other one maybe in the back."