Michael Rogers, the Melbourne man affectionately known as Trolley man thanks to his heroic actions during last Friday’s deadly terror attack in Bourke Street, has made his first purchase after thousands of Aussies raised more than $140,000 in thanks for his bravery.
Australians were captivated after video footage of the 46-year-old ramming a shopping trolley into attacker Hassan Khalif Shire Ali as he attempted to stab police went viral online. They flooded a GoFundMe page with donations for Melbourne’s unlikely trolley hero, with the original intention to raise enough funds for Rogers to purchase a new mobile phone after his was smashed during Friday’s events.
On Tuesday evening, Donna Stolzenberg, CEO of the Melbourne Homeless Collective that set up the campaign, updated followers with Rogers’ first purchase. Taking to the GoFundMe page, she explained that the organisation had met with Rogers and purchased him a new phone.
She described him as “the loveliest person” and that he didn’t believe the hero status people have given him following the deadly incident in Melbourne.
“We bought him a new phone to replace the one that was smashed in the incident,” she wrote. “He is so grapple the support he has received is and quite overwhelmed by it all.”
Stolzenberg confirmed that 100 per cent of the funds raised for Rogers would go directly to him and said money will be held in a trust account with accountants at One Ledger to oversee the handling of the funds, to ensure Rogers is taken care of and that he is guided financially as he moves forward.
The fundraising campaign will be kept open until Sunday, November 18 to ensure anyone else who wants to donate has a chance. According to News.com.au, Rogers was given $500 and feasted on spaghetti marinara and pizza from his favourite restaurant La Prochetta.
Many have criticised the campaign for raising money for Rogers, particularly because it has been reported he previously spent time in jail for stealing a bike. Still, Stolzenberg said it was important for people to focus on his heroic actions and not his past.
“He really is an incredible, humble and beautiful person. I know the media has reported a lot on his past, and I guess everyone is curious,” she wrote on National Homeless Collective’s Facebook page. “But please, let’s focus on the person he is now, the person who stepped in to try and save two police officers from a crazed attacker.
“The person who has a brother who adores him, a sister-in-law who speaks so highly of him, and five nieces and nephews who cannot wait to see their Uncle Michael again.”
She also said that she now calls him a friend.
Rogers was in Bourke Street on Friday when Somali-born Australian Shire Ali went on a rampage, stabbing three people before being shot in the chest by police.
Video footage showed him first driving his ute down Bourke Street, before setting it on fire and attacking police and bystanders with a knife. The 30-year-old, who was reportedly known to authorities, later died in hospital from his wounds. One of his victims, Melbourne cafe owner Sisto Malaspina, is said to have died at the scene with multiple reports confirming the other two victims, aged 26 and 59, remain in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Footage showed Rogers repeatedly running at the attacker with a trolley in an apparent attempt to help police. An officer was later seen shaking his hand to thank him for his help.
He told 7 News he didn’t think twice about grabbing the nearby trolley to help.
“The opportunity was, the trolley was there and I took it,” he said.
“For those few crucial moments where there was no (police) back-up, I don’t think it was stupid, what I did.”