Police have praised the extraordinary bravery of bystanders who ran towards danger today, confronting a man armed with a knife in Sydney's CBD and preventing potential tragedy.

An emergency situation unfolded near Wynyard Station at about 2pm when a man armed with a large knife allegedly stabbed a woman at a hotel of the corner of King and Clarence Streets.

The man, who appeared to be caucasian and aged in his 20s, then fled on foot and attempted to stab "a number" of other people, police allege.

It was the selfless quick-thinking of several men who worked together to stop him that likely prevented further tragedy.

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"Shoot me," the man could be heard screaming as he raced erratically down the street. "Shoot me in the f***ing head. Shoot me! Allahu Akbar."

Without hesitation, one man armed with nothing but a wicker chair from a nearby cafe slowly approached the alleged attacker.

The alleged knifeman jumped onto the bonnet of a black Mercedes, which sped off, as the bystander continued to approach.


A New South Wales Fire and Rescue Service truck was in the area when the mayhem erupted and witnesses say a number of firemen leapt from it.

One gave chase with an axe while another man grabbed a restaurant chair.

The alleged knifeman was stopped by members of the public. Photo / Channel 7
The alleged knifeman was stopped by members of the public. Photo / Channel 7

A number of other bystanders joined in, one armed with a crowbar and another with a milk crate.

The group, who police have described as "heroes", managed to bring the man to the ground and restrain him using their unlikely combination of items.

His body was pinned down with the two chairs while a milk crate was used on his head and neck until police arrived.

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One of the heroes, Lee Cuthbert, told Channel 9 newspapers that he and three colleagues — brothers Paul and Luke O'Shaughnessy, along with Alex Roberts — heard the commotion from their office and gave chase.

"We all kind of chased, worked together, but it was Luke who was the real hero. He pursued him the hardest and managed to get a grip of him with another man," Mr Cuthbert said.

"Luke is down at the police station giving a statement."

The man who approached the knifeman with a cafe chair.
The man who approached the knifeman with a cafe chair.

David Vaux was coming back from a quiet lunch break and the scene become so dramatic he thought a crime television show was being filmed.

"A man came around the corner carrying a knife and being chased by another five or six men," he said.

"All of them were carrying crow bars or an axe and one was carrying a camera. I thought it was a scene from a television crime show but that quickly turned out not to be the case."

Mr Vaux said the patrons at the cafe the man ran past quickly realised they needed to help apprehend the man, pinning him down with chairs and a crate.

"It was a matter of seconds, it all happened so fast. They guy couldn't move at all. He was absolutely in a distressed state. He didn't seem sound of mind at all.

"I think it was an extraordinary response by the public and it just demonstrates people are prepared to do the right thing if called upon."

A man is seen being arrested on Clarence Street in Sydney. Photo / Twitter
A man is seen being arrested on Clarence Street in Sydney. Photo / Twitter

"A number of members of the public physically restrained the offender and I want to acknowledge those people," NSW Police Superintendent Gavin Wood said.

"They were brave and I use that word seriously. They were significantly brave people. To approach a person with the mindset of what this person (had), these people are clearly heroes.

"These people, going about their day to day business, have jumped into a situation that's extremely dangerous. They have brought a person, who stabbed an innocent person for no specific reason, into custody."

The woman was rushed to St Vincent's Hospital with a stab wound to her upper back and is in a stable condition.

A heavy police presence remains at multiple crime scenes. The man is in police custody.