A man has been arrested after he started a chainsaw during a heated argument at a service station and advanced on another man with the chain running.
The incident happened in Alexandra yesterday afternoon.
Alexandra police were called at 2.30pm after the occupants of two vehicles which had stopped at a local service station became involved in a heated argument.
"That ended with one of the men taking a chainsaw from the boot of his car, starting it, and then moving forward towards the other person while the chain was running," said Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk.
The men were both from the Central Otago area and known to each other, "with some long standing ill feeling between the two".
"This is an act of stupidity with a huge potential for serious injury given a chainsaw was involved," Mr Kerrisk said. "It is aggravated by the fact that it occurred on the main street of Alexandra in the middle of the afternoon with members of the public both at the service station and passing by."
Mr Kerrisk said the chainsaw was soon put away, but the altercation could easily have ended in tragedy if one of the men had tripped or stopped suddenly.
"We are very lucky that everyone escaped without injury, as witnesses describe the chainsaw as getting very close to the other man involved."
Witnesses immediately called police but both men left once they realised officers were on the way. A 45-year-old Roxburgh man surrendered himself at the Alexandra Police Station a short time later, bringing the chainsaw with him, Mr Kerrisk said. He was charged with assault with a weapon and would appear in the Alexandra District Court today.
Police have spoken to the other party, a 43-year-old Alexandra man, and confirmed that he was not injured.
Mr Kerrisk reassured the public that this was an isolated incident and that incidents of this nature were extremely rare in the area.
"This is certainly something that is unusual for Alexandra," he said.