Pursuit and citizens’ arrest of knife-wielding maniac
ALERTED by the commotion a group of ordinary workers - IT managers, traffic controllers and fireys - showed extraordinary bravery to tackle a deranged man wielding a bloody knife in the heart of the city on Tuesday.
Screams shattered the end of the normal CBD lunch hour when the man emerged from an apartment block in Clarence St and stabbed a woman in the back outside a cycle shop.
A few minutes earlier police allege the man brutally murdered another woman at a unit inside the block by slitting her throat.
Up in his fourth-floor recruitment business on King St Paul O'Shaughnessy heard the uproar and with his mates and younger brother Luke bolted from the office to help.
Outside the knife-wielding man, his clothes covered in blood, had jumped onto the bonnet of a Mercedes and was screaming at passers-by.
"Allahu Akbar," he yelled, then "shoot me, f**king shoot me in the f**king head, shoot me. I want to f*cking die". He waved his knife at an office worker who ran towards him armed only with a chair.
The suspect then jumped off the bonnet as his pursuers warily tracked him through the streets.
"Not saying we were heroes or anything, but people were actually very scared going that way, and we just ran in," Paul said. "We just got the troops we said all right come on let's go and see if we can help, so we ran towards him. If somebody like that isn't restrained or stopped or at least challenged he's just going to continue to do what he's doing."
IT manager Simon Finch was jogging down King St when he saw the commotion and joined Paul and Luke and others including a number of firemen.
"There were five or six of us all chasing him," he said. "I followed him down Clarence Street Barrack Street and Wynyard Street, he was shouting some things that were praising Allah."
Mr Finch's first concern was the safety of others. "I was just shouting to people to get out of the way."
Advertising account director Michael Appleby joined the pursuit.
"We saw him turn off to Barrack Street and there were cars stopped at a red light. He went to stab someone, one of the drivers, but they had the window up. He kept running down, kept yelling out Allahu Akbar, turned on to Wynyard St and dumped a whole bunch of pills."
That was when Westpac IT manager Jamie Ingram swept up a cafe chair and wielded it at the man, constantly wary of his bloody 30 centimetre blade.
"All I wanted to do was stop him and put him on the ground," Mr Ingram said. "I followed him up York Street and tried to get him to look into my eyes rather than anyone else around him."
While Mr Ingram was concerned for the safety of others the knife-man was wary of him. "He wasn't saying anything he was just looking at me wondering what I was going to do."
Eventually after a chase Mr Ingram got close enough to tackle him with the chair. Another man grabbed a milk crate and put it over his head.
Traffic controller Steven Georgiadis had been working when he heard people shouting "stop, stop, stop" and saw the man on the ground.
Video shows the attacker pinned by the chair and a milk crate, as one of the bystanders screams at him: "Do you know there are people you just stabbed … you stabbed a chick mate."
"Stop, stop, stop, wait for the cops," said another of the everyday heroes before asking what the bloodied man on the ground has done.
"He just stabbed a chick in broad daylight," he was told before another warns: "Watch his hands." Another said: "He's not going nowhere stand on his hands."
Mr Georgiadis said: "All the lads that were chasing him were on top of him so I just stood on the blade until the police arrived."
Afterwards NSW Police Superintendent Gavin Wood praised the men. "A number of members of the public physically restrained the offender, I want to acknowledge those members of the public who got involved. They were significantly brave people."
That praise was echoed by the NSW Fire Brigade which tweeted: "We'd like to praise our firefighters for their brave actions at today's stabbing incident. Our crew and members of the public gave chase and detained the man before @nswpolice arrested him. Firefighters were selfless in their actions and put the safety of others before their own."
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller described those who apprehended the man as "highest-order heroes".
"(They) have engaged this 21-year-old man and have placed him essentially under arrest, even though he was brandishing a large butcher's knife and was clearly dangerous," Comm Fuller said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted: "The attacker is now in police custody following the brave actions of those who were present at the scene and were able to able to restrain him."
On Twitter other shocked Sydneysiders reflected sombrely on a day that showed the worst and best of their city. Said one: "Today my best friend and I just wanted to quickly catch up over coffee on a new cafe on the corner of George and Clarence. Today a man with a knife ran towards us. Today I'm also thankful that I'm alive."
Additional reporting: Mitchell Van Homrigh and Ed Boyd
If you or someone you know needs help, mental health support or emotional assistance, contact Lifeline Services on 13 11 14.