A man suspected of embarking on a crime spree, including a random triple stabbing at a Sydney gym, has been been arrested following a tense 17-hour stand-off with police on the roof of a Newcastle townhouse.
The 27-year-old man was taken into custody in dramatic scenes about 4.45am on Wednesday, after spending the night and much of the previous day perched on the roof of the townhouse in Tighes Hill, a north-western suburb of Newcastle.
At one point during the night, a tactical police officer was shown pointing a gun at the shirtless man, who stood just metres away appearing calm and looking from side to side.
Detective Acting Inspector Jeff Little said early on Wednesday morning that police moved in to make the arrest after a "long night".
"This person of interest was not interested in giving himself up, so his arrest was affected by us and it was taken by force," he said.
"But I'm happy to say it ended the best possible way it could have, with no serious injuries to any person."
He was assessed by NSW Ambulance paramedics and taken to Newcastle Police Station, where he was being questioned by detectives on Wednesday morning.
Police had closed in on the man at the townhouse just before midday on Tuesday, following an alleged crime spree that began on Monday night with the theft of a black BMW convertible from a car wash in Crows Nest.
That car belonged to Bill Pulver, the Australian Rugby Union chief executive, whose daughter Maddie was held hostage as part of an extortion attempt in 2011.
Police allege the 27-year-old man drove the stolen car to Vision Personal Training gym on Pittwater Road in Brookvale, where he allegedly stabbed three men who were working out with a personal trainer.
One of the victims was stabbed in the neck and required emergency surgery, while the two other men were taken to hospital with stab wounds to their arms and torsos.
Police allege he then drove to Sandgate in Newcastle where, two hours after the stabbing, he robbed two service stations on Maitland Road.
CCTV footage of the first of the service station robberies shows a man behind the counter, as a terrified shop attendant and a customer watch on. The vision shows a man struggling to wrench a cash register draw open with a knife before he begins to kick it.
The cash register is eventually broken free before the man runs off and gets back in a car.
The man is accused of abandoning the BMW and taking another car owned by the residents of the Tighes Hill townhouse, who police described as "associates" of the man. Police stressed the townhouse residents had no connection to the triple stabbing and armed robberies.
A police pursuit through Hamilton South on Tuesday morning also was allegedly started when he sped through a school zone. He initially pulled over, but allegedly sped off and triggered the pursuit.
Detective Inspector Peter Mahon said on Tuesday afternoon that inquiries in Hamilton South led them back to the Tighes Hill townhouse.
"When we've approached the premises, he's obviously seen us and jumped out the window," he said at the time.
"All we can do is sit it out. We'll negotiate with him as long as it takes."
The man could be seen at various points throughout the day sitting on the roof gazing at the sky, as residents who were evacuated from the row of townhouses became increasingly agitated as the siege dragged on.
Shirtless, he was also seen jumping from roof to roof, before lying down and spending much of the afternoon on a section of roof not visible by the public.
On Wednesday morning, Detective Acting Inspector Little thanked the residents of the townhouses who had been evacuated from their homes as police negotiated with the man throughout the night.
"I am really grateful for the patience exercised by the residents. They've been through a fairly traumatic night just by the mere fact that they've had to vacate their houses," he said.
smh.com.au with the Newcastle Herald