NSW Police say a masked gunman fired “random shots” at passing pedestrians and vehicles in a South Coast town before taking a shopkeeper hostage.
Dramatic scenes, much of them recorded by onlookers, unfolded at 9:30am this morning in the coastal suburb of Windang, near Illawarra.
A masked man, clad entirely in black, was seen firing a rifle several times on Windang’s main strip.
Video showed the man — carrying one rifle in his hands, with another slung across his shoulder — pacing along Windang Road.
He could be seen firing the weapon into the air before walking past a medical centre, circling a parked car and peering into a grocery store.
“What the f*** is going on? Is he for f***ing real?” a woman could be heard saying in footage posted on social media.
The gunman then picked up what appeared to be a silver briefcase left in the middle of the road.
Police would not disclose the contents of the case or why it was left there, but said the case and the gunman’s backpack were being forensically examined.
Assistant Commissioner Joseph Cassar said the man took several “random shots” at passing vehicles and pedestrians before “barricading himself” inside a nearby dive shop.
Photos taken by witnesses showed several officers with their firearms drawn, pressed up against the wall of the diving and spearfishing store, which sits next to a BWS liquor store.
Assistant Commissioner Cassar said there were two employees in the store. One managed to escape and provide police with “valuable information”.
The store owner was held inside the premises before being released uninjured.
Resident Sam Williams was down the road and thought the loud bangs were fireworks. When he walked out to the road he heard another gunshot and saw police “flying down the street”.
“We were just around the corner when we heard gunshots [then] there was just a stand-off just outside the chip shop,” he said.
“There were [police] walking down the street with assault rifles and when the guy walked out about 20 cops pinned him down.
Police said several cars were damaged by gunfire before officers arrived. At least one person was in one of the vehicles when it was shot at.
Assistant Commissioner Cassar said the 40-year-old gunman surrendered after tactical police arrived at the scene.
He was taken to Lake Illawarra Police Station.
Police are currently combing the crime scene and the man’s home for evidence.
“The individual is a registered firearms holder, so his information is certainly known … on our systems,” the Assistant Commissioner said.
“However, I would not say he is well known to police.”