A display of "extreme bravery" by members of the public helped foil a mass stabbing in Auckland that could've ended "a lot worse".
A man is now in custody after he yesterday stabbed four members of the public in the city's North Shore in a horrifying incident that brought police teams swarming to the scene.
One terrified woman in Murrays Bay described screaming for help as she ran from the man as he brandished a "big knife", while another witness reported seeing a builder scream and clutch his stomach in pain.
Ultimately, a group of heroic individuals banded together to subdue the attacker in nearby Mairangi Bay.
One reportedly used a crutch to bring him to the ground.
Police arrived shortly after and handcuffed the offender.
Waitematā district commander superintendent Naila Hassan said the group's brave actions likely saved others from harm.
"There were members of the public that acted in extreme bravery, they apprehended the offender and brought this incident to its conclusion," she said.
"It could've been a lot worse and that's why I really need to acknowledge the bravery of those members of the public."
The four stabbing victims suffered moderate wounds, but the attacks left many more locals shocked.
Hassan described it as an isolated and random incident. There was no indication it was a hate crime, she said.
It occurred just before midday in broad daylight on normally peaceful streets.
Witnesses dialled their first emergency calls in to police at about 11.18am, with Hassan saying the offender initially approached a house on Westbourne Rd in Murrays Bay where he stabbed "an occupant of the property".
He then left the home and headed towards Murrays Bay Beach and a bus stop where three more people were stabbed.
The man then made his way towards Mairangi Bay to the south before members of the public stopped him.
Hassan said that while police generally discouraged the public intervening in violent incidents, they greatly appreciated the bravery of those who yesterday put their personal safety aside to protect others.
One witness described to the Herald how the incident could have ended much worse for her.
She said she had just stepped onto Murrays Bay Beach to take her dog for its regular walk when a man close to the water turned around and approached her.
At first she thought he "wanted to chat".
"I was wearing headphones and went to take the headphones off to talk to him because that's what I thought he wanted," she said.
However, there was something about the man that put her on edge, she said.
Then "he just started running at me".
"And - fight or flight - I turned away and ran the other way and I looked back and he had a big knife, running at me," she said.
"I was screaming, calling out for help because he was chasing me with this big knife."
She said she managed to get a little way ahead of the man and turned to the left near the Murrays Bay Sailing Club, while the man kept on running to Beach Rd where he disappeared.
Nearby passers-by saw the incident and some followed the man at a distance, the woman said.
She immediately called police, saying they arrived 10 minutes later and by that time the man had already been apprehended, although she didn't see it happen.
A Mairangi Bay resident says he later witnessed a man, who looked to be in his 20s holding a 20cm knife.
Five members of the public had apprehended the man and walked him down Montrose Terrace towards the waterfront, the resident, who wanted to be identified only as Steve, said.
The man appeared to be in some level of distress, Steve said.
The people encircling him didn't appear to know each other and had weapons of their own.
They warned members of the public to make way as they progressed down the road.
Two of the group struck the knife-wielding man - once in the leg and once in the head - which brought him to the ground, Steve said.
He said it was at this point that police stepped in and detained the man.
"The man more or less lay down, I know he burst out in tears, you could hear him crying. I think the realisation came in."
A worker from nearby Montrose Cafe, Bistro and Bar said one of the group used a crutch to trip up the alleged offender.
Another resident in Murrays Bay earlier saw a man clutch his stomach in pain.
The Westbourne Rd resident said he saw two men he presumed to be builders out on the road, when one of them screamed.
The injured man then ran behind a nearby car to seek protection from the other man, who the resident assumed was his attacker.
The alleged attacker then walked away towards Murrays Bay Beach.
North Shore MP Simon Watts and East Coast Bays MP Eric Stanford were among those to express shock and upset at the stabbings and send their thoughts to the injured and their families.
Auckland Councillor Chris Darby said his heart went out to the victims and praised the brave intervention of "construction workers" who foiled the attacker.