Police draw guns on armed man

POLICE officers drew their firearms on a man who allegedly armed himself with knives as a large brawl escalated at a Coffs Harbour park on Australia Day.

The 22-year-old was ordered to drop the weapons and get on the ground before he was handcuffed and taken into custody.

The brawl, at the York Street playing fields at 5.50pm, erupted after a group of friends involved in a game at the park got into a fight with a passing group of youths.

Police say the alleged offender ran to a nearby home and armed himself with two kitchen knives before returning to the field.

Coffs Harbour duty officer Inspector Chris Clarke said the actions of the officers stopped a volatile situation escalating into serious injury.

“Police received reports of a large-scale brawl at the field and as one car responded officers in another vehicle tasked to the scene saw the man carrying the knives,” Inspector Clarke said.

“Given the agitated state he was in and the fact he was under the influence of alcohol, the officers prevented this person seriously injuring those involved in the brawl.”

The man has been charged with affray and armed with intent, while another youth involved in the brawl was also charged with affray.

Five other people were arrested on the Coffs Coast during Operation Vine, the police blitz on anti-social Australia Day behaviour.

Police say apart from a few isolated incidents, Australia Day celebrations were a massive improvement on last year.

They credited the 24-hour alcohol ban enforced on beachside reserves and parks between Sawtell and Arrawarra as the catalyst for change.

“The feedback police received in enforcing the prohibition of alcohol was extremely positive,” Inspector Clarke said.

“The general banter from families enjoying a barbecue on the Coffs Harbour foreshores was that police had restored the occasion of Australia Day, where they could enjoy it without safety being an issue.”

Given the success of the booze ban, police say it will again be introduced next year on New Year’s Eve and Australia Day.

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