We’re not heroes, say ‘brave’ Britons who detained Sydney stabbing suspect

Two British brothers hailed as heroes for tackling a knifeman linked to the death of a woman in Sydney have said they would do the same if it happened again because they are “protectors”.

Luke and Paul O’Shaughnessy, from Bury in Greater Manchester, said they acted on instinct as they saw a man wielding a large blade running through the streets of the Australian city centre.

Racing down from their fourth-floor office, the brothers chased the attacker before tackling him to the ground and helping pin him down with a chair and milk crate.

Both said they were “proud” of their actions, but denied they were heroes – despite police and the country’s prime minister commending them for helping to tackle the suspect.

Paul, 37, a former midfielder with crisis-club Bury between 1999 and 2004, said: “I didn’t even think about it.

“I just thought is my brother going to be OK as we ran towards him.”

He added: “Our values as brothers is we are protectors.”

Brother Luke, 30, told PA: “I just wanted to make sure he couldn’t hurt anyone else.

“We’ve talked before about what we would do when we hear about these things happening around the world.

“We’re the kind of guys who ask questions later and act on instinct.”

He added: “If it happened again I would do it again and act quicker.”

Paul O'Shaughnessy pictured playing for Bury FC in 2003
Paul O’Shaughnessy pictured playing for Bury FC in 2003 (John Jones/PA)

The pair, who run digital talent agency MAP Talent, were in their office on York Street when the drama unfolded at around 3.15pm local time (6.15am BST).

Luke said they spoke of the danger they were running into as they jumped into the lift to go and help.

“I heard a massive commotion outside,” he told PA.

“I shouted ‘Paul, let’s go there’s a man with a knife’. As we came down in the lift I said ‘seriously, he’s covered in blood’.

“We came out onto King Street and ran from there all the way round trying to chase him.

“Eventually we caught up with him and I just apprehended him and pinned him down.

Sydney stabbing
Screengrab of a man being tackled with a milk crate and chairs by members of the public in Sydney, Australia (Andrew Denney/7 News/PA)

“He had a knife. It was next to him covered in blood.”

Other passers-by also stopped to help, including two firefighters.

The brothers said they kept the attacker detained until the police arrived on scene.

Paul, a father-of-two who has lived in Sydney for 11 years, said he felt it was his way of giving back to a country which had welcomed him with open arms.

“The thing I will reflect on is that I’ve given something back today by doing what’s right and that the British can do Britain proud by coming to another country and doing what they can to help,” he said.

Police confirmed they were investigating allegations the suspect yelled “Allahu akbar”, or “God is great”, but are not treating it as a terror incident.

Police said the suspect – a 21-year-old man from Maryong in New South Wales – attempted to stab several people in the Australian city, at around 6.15am BST (3.15pm local time) before being arrested.

A woman was found dead in a building nearby and police were investigating if the earlier stabbing at a hotel on the corner of Clarence and King streets was linked to the street attacks.

New South Wales Police Superintendent Gavin Wood, speaking to reporters near the scene, praised the men who tackled the suspect, also said to have included Manchester man Lee Cuthbert.

Mr Wood said: “They are significantly brave people. They approach the person… with clear evidence of a stabbing previously. These people are heroes, and I want to acknowledge that.

“These members of the public going about their day-to-day business have jumped into a situation which was extremely dangerous, extremely hostile, and they have brought a person – who we will be alleging stabbed an innocent person for no specific reason – into custody and allowed us to do our job.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison commended the bystanders for intervening, describing their actions as “brave” .

Asked to respond to the acclaim, the brothers said: “We’re not heroes.”

Police said a second woman in hospital was not in a life-threatening condition, while a third woman was said to have a minor injury to her hand.

Saw the attacker drop his knife in the street on York St. I realised he had a knife and shouted about it, and he picked it up and ran. Then I saw all these people chasing him back the other way… and then this. I can't imagine if he had a gun. We'd all be dead. #sydneystabbingpic.twitter.com/BE5JUh2u2S

— Brodie Smith (@thisisbrodie) August 13, 2019

Witness Brodie Smith said on Twitter: “Saw the attacker drop his knife in the street on York St.

“I realised he had a knife and shouted about it, and he picked it up and ran.

“Then I saw all these people chasing him back the other way… and then this. I can’t imagine if he had a gun. We’d all be dead.”

Australia Sydney Stabbing
Emergency workers at the scene (Rick Rycroft/AP)

Footage posted online appeared to show a suspect standing on a vehicle roof in the middle of a busy city street, holding a knife aloft and shouting before he was later apprehended.

The unnamed driver, an Uber driver, told Nine News Sydney: “I froze for probably a split second but then I thought I’m hoping that he’s not covered in any explosives or anything, so I quickly accelerated so he can get off the car.

“He was fearless. He was completely fearless.”

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