When Man Haron Monis walked into Sydney’s Lindt cafe on December 15, 2014, barking demands at the store’s manager Tori Johnson and wearing a bandana with an extremist Arabic slogan plastered across it, customer Louisa Hope didn’t take it seriously.
“I thought it was a joke,” she told news.com.au five years on from the siege which shook Australia.
“We were across from Channel 7 and I wondered if it was maybe a candid camera moment or something, you know. Some sort of silly nonsense.”
For Ms Hope and her mother Robyn, who were two of 18 hostages in a siege that lasted more than 16 hours, they originally hadn’t even planned to visit the Martin Place cafe.
The pair were staying at the Hilton Hotel and had made a last-minute decision to pass on breakfast at their place of stay in favour of the Lindt cafe – a place she held fond memories of from her time working in the city.
But their quick morning meal was short-lived when Monis pulled out a shotgun from his bag. That’s when Ms Hope thought “this is the day I die”.
She recalled to the online publication how she was immediately separated from her mother as Monis was paranoid about hostages plotting against him.
“He had total control over everything,” she said.
The siege was eventually brought to an end when Mr Johnson was shot dead by Monis and police stormed the building.
Monis was killed instantly while hostage Katrina Dawson died after being hit by police bullet fragments.
Ms Hope, then 54, was shot in the foot, meaning she spent the next three months in the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney’s east.
She was so inspired by the care she received during those 12 weeks she later created the Louisa Hope Fund for Nurses at the hospital.
“The nurses were just wonderful. So brilliant. That’s what I was really struck by and thanks to them, it was kind of a happy place after the siege, at Prince of Wales,” she said.
She has since raised over $100,000 for the cause.
In September, then police sniper Mark Davidson said he regrets not having the opportunity to save Mr Johnson’s life – a death he believes was preventable.
Mr Davidson says 10 hours into the standoff, he had a clear view of Monis – who had told the hostages he had a bomb – through one of the cafe's windows for a period of 10 minutes.
But in order to justify shooting him, Mr Davidson believed he needed to know whether Monis was pointing a shotgun at hostages and whether he had a device that could set off a bomb in his hands.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.