News National Queensland man awarded bravery medal for catching armed man

Queensland man awarded bravery medal for catching armed man

Damond Gray is one of 74 Australians to receive a bravery award. Photo: Damond Gray
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After watching a movie one Sunday afternoon, Damond Gray drifted off to sleep, oblivious to the armed stranger in his family home.

In the kitchen, his mother-in-law Gaylene Young was staring down the barrel of a loaded shotgun, while Mr Gray’s wife and three kids were just rooms away.

Little did she know it would soon be pointed in Mr Gray’s direction.

What unfolded over the next few minutes has earned the 41-year-old a bravery medal from Governor-General David Hurley.

But as Mr Gray later reflected on the 2017 incident, he couldn’t help but think: “Geez, that was stupid”.

The truck driver from Queensland was woken by a panicked Ms Young, who had seen a male intruder enter their home through their unlocked front door.

She had already chased him as he weaved through their kitchen, before he pulled out his gun and pointed it at the grandmother.

Ms Young, 62, said the man kept the gun aimed at her for a few minutes before racing through their back door and attempting to steal a bicycle.

It appeared the bicycle would act as his getaway vehicle, but it had two flat tyres.

The man escaped on foot, giving Ms Young enough time to relay what had happened to Mr Gray.

The pair jumped in his car and pursued the man.

Ms Young was determined to ensure the armed man was caught. Photo: Damond Gray

Mr Gray said he had no intention on hurting the armed culprit, or even confronting him. The pair hadn’t driven for very long when they spotted the man attempting to break into a parked car.

They stopped alongside the armed man, who pointed the shotgun directly at their windscreen and dropped a knife to the ground.

“That didn’t look like a real gun to me … So I wasn’t overly worried by the gun at that stage.”

When the man ran off, Mr Gray suspected he wasn’t going to hurt him so he got out of his car and continued to follow him.

He would later learn the man had already fired a shot at his neighbour’s driveway.

Had he known that, Mr Gray said in hindsight, he would have stayed inside his car and followed him from a distance.

But Mr Gray’s fearless actions stopped other neighbourhood break-ins and prevented innocent residents from getting caught in the crossfire.

Mr Gray said the man tried trespassing into other homes, including that of a young family and deaf people.

But he pulled him away from doorways and yelled out to alert whoever was inside about the man approaching their property.

Eventually, the man seemingly gave up and pointed his shotgun back at Mr Gray.

“He motioned or tested that he was pulling the trigger,” Mr Gray said.

The only reason why I think he tried to shoot was because he looked down at his gun and it obviously didn’t go bang.’’

To distract him, Mr Gray shouted at the man, saying police were already behind him.

As he turned around, Mr Gray got the man in a headlock, and restrained him on the ground.

“I grabbed the gun and that fell apart. I had the barrel and he had the handle.”

With the help of an ex-police officer living nearby, they restrained him until police arrived.

“If I hadn’t restrained him, the police were going to shoot him. Apparently they were just around the corner gearing up.”

Mr Gray is one of 74 Australians to receive a bravery award for actions, including rescuing people from burning vehicles, homes and dangerous flood waters.

“Australian Bravery Awards recognise and celebrate Australians who, faced with a dangerous or perilous situation, think not of themselves or their own safety but about others,” Governor-General Mr Hurley said.

“These individuals deserve our admiration – they are an inspiration and examples of the sort of selfless sacrifice that we can all aspire to.”

To see the full list of recipients, click here.

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