CENTRELINK customers and staff tried to disable a man waving a large meat cleaver and making threats in the Bendigo office yesterday, according to witnesses.
Quarry Hill resident Allison Sanders said she was in the Lyttleton Terrace office when an agitated man produced a knife.
She said the man drew the knife after being frustrated at being put on hold during a phone call.
“He moved it around in the air and said ‘if anyone comes near me, I’m going to stab you’,” Ms Sanders said. “It was very scary. People were running around not knowing what to do.
“As soon as people saw the knife it was panic mode.”
Ms Sanders said the man pulled out the knife after being confronted by a man who tried to calm him. She said six or seven people had tried to stop the man, who fled the premises.
Another witness said a boy had placed two knives in a bin outside the Bendigo Town Hall, which police later retrieved.
They said three people had tried to flee in a black Holden Astra before being arrested.
One officer had a hand on his gun while running towards the car but did not draw his weapon.
Another witness Ben, who asked for his last name not to be used, said children had witnessed the incident.
“I’m so glad it didn’t get out of hand,” he said. “He was making threats to the people at Centrelink. There were lots of people standing around and getting ready to jump on him if things got out of hand.”
Police yesterday said they would retrieve CCTV footage from the Centrelink office.
Three knifes were taken as evidence.
A 23-year-old man, 22-year-old woman and a 13-year-old boy from a Mitchell Street address were arrested at the scene.
Acting Sergeant Erin Coleman said the three people were known to each other and each had knives.
First Constable Rebecca Donaldson last night said the trio faced charges including threatening to inflict serious injury, unlawful assault, weapon possession, assaulting police, resisting police, and affray.
Charges had not been laid at the time the Bendigo Advertiser went to print.
First Constable Donaldson said witnesses should contact police on 5448 1300 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.