World

Bystanders pin down Sydney stabber, ending his rampage

One woman dead in knife attack allegedly by man with a history of mental illness

SYDNEY A knife-wielding man killed one person and attempted to stab several others in a rampage in central Sydney yesterday before being chased and pinned down by members of the public, witnesses told AFP.

Police said a 21-year-old Sydney man with a history of mental illness is believed to have killed a woman in a residential unit before going on the rampage.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said he had no known links to terror organisations, but he did have a USB drive with details of mass-casualty white-supremacist attacks in the US and New Zealand.

Witness Megan Hales told AFP she saw a man brandishing a large kitchen knife chasing people through the central business district shortly after lunchtime.

A 41-year-old woman who was stabbed is now said to be in a stable condition.

"Five or six others were chasing him behind, trying to stop him. They caught him and restrained him" in front of two popular cafes in the heart of the city, Ms Hales said.

Four of the pursuers were Colombia-born Alex Roberts, and Britons Lee Cuthbert and brothers Paul and Luke O'Shaughnessy - all colleagues at a recruitment consultancy who raced from their fourth-storey office to the street.

"We opened the window and saw the guy wielding a knife and jumping on the bonnet" of a nearby car, Paul, a former professional footballer, told AFP.

Convinced it was a terrorist attack, his brother Luke - a champion muay Thai fighter - led the chase.

"We all just ran down the building and chased him down the street", said Mr Roberts. "Everyone was kind of panicking; no one really knew what was happening."

Mr Cuthbert said that Luke, with the help of another man, "managed to get him down on to the floor and pin him down" with chairs and a plastic crate before police arrived.

"We're a very close team," he said. "We're all brothers really, so when you see brothers running, your instinct is to follow."

Police said that despite indications the assailant shouted "Allahu Akbar" and "shoot me", it was not yet clear whether there was a political motive.

"It would appear at this stage it is unprovoked, but we are keeping a very open mind as we move forward," police spokesman Superintendent Gavin Wood said, hailing the action of the bystanders. "To approach a person... with clear evidence of a stabbing previously, these people are heroes."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also praised their bravery.

"The attacker is now in police custody following the brave actions of those who were at the scene and were able to able to restrain him," he said in a tweet. "Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by this violent attack." - AFP

WORLD