Three citizens who apprehended a 21-year-old man brandishing a large butcher’s knife in Sydney’s central business district have been hailed by police as heroes.
The trio used chairs, a crowbar and a milk crate to apprehend the alleged offender, before he was arrested by authorities on Tuesday afternoon.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told a media conference at 5.30pm on Tuesday that a 24-year-old woman was found dead at a Clarence Street apartment from fatal stabs wounds to her neck.
A crime scene had also been established at the nearby Hotel CBD, where a 41-year-old woman was stabbed in the back in a random attack.
She was taken to St Vincent’s hospital, where she is in a stable condition.
Commissioner Fuller said the attacks were not being treated as a terrorist incident at this stage as the alleged offender – said to have a history of mental illness – had acted alone.
Police arrest man after allegedly stabbing a woman in Sydney's CBD this afternoon.
Posted by NSW Police Force on Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Police Minister David Elliott said the incident “could have been much worse” were it not for the actions of the citizens and a firefighter who assisted in arresting the suspect.
NSW Police initially said emergency services responded about 2pm following reports a man was walking along York Street, armed with a knife.
Police, fire and ambulance vehicles raced to the scene, in the King and Clarence streets district, amid reports of the attack.
The suspect, from Marayong in Sydney’s west, was taken to Day Street Police Station.
A number of crime scenes have been established and a number of road closures are in place, which is believed to have significant impact on traffic and public transport.
David Vaux, who witnessed the incident, told the ABC he saw a man run round the corner from Wynyard Park.
“He came round the corner quickly, followed by a number of men. I would say six men, giving chase to him. One of the men was carrying a news camera over his shoulder. My initial impression was that it was a scene from a crime TV show. Then I quickly realised it was not the case,” Mr Vaux said.
“The man ran down the laneway outside a cafe and I think some patrons there must have tripped him up, he hit the ground. They put a chair over his body and a milk crate over his head.
“The other men, by this stage, had arrived and also then secured him until police arrived.”
Mr Vaux said the civilians who brought down the man had been brave.
Another female witness, who gave her name as Sandy, told the ABC she had seen a person holding a knife. He had blood on his hand and was surrounded by police.
“There was a lot of police over there and [they are] still there. The
operation is going on, still going on,” she said.
“They asked us to be safe and close the doors. They asked us not to come out of the area.”
— Jaydan Duck (@JaydanDuck) August 13, 2019
Police have advised people to avoid the area.
“There is a police operation that is ongoing in CBD,” a police spokesperson said.
NSW Police Superintendent Gavin Wood said the man had tried to stab the woman who was injured, before trying to stab others.
“There has been, subsequent to that stabbing, a number of attempted stabbings by the same offender and bearing in mind we have multiple crime scenes, we are in the infancy stage of this investigation,” he said.
So insane! A random dude just started stabbing people in the city right outside where we were having lunch. I saw people running so I ran towards him with a few other guys.
— JackHuddo | #GangGang (@JackHuddo) August 13, 2019
He said the man had been arrested and “the threat has been negated”.
He described the passers-by who brought down the man as heroes.
“The male offender was on his own and there was no person other complicit at this stage.”
Police do not believe the man knew any of the people he attempted to stab and that the attack was entirely random.
Authorities say “multiple crime scenes” are being investigated.