Mackay CBD lockdown.
Mackay CBD lockdown. Stuart Quinn

Witnesses tell of gunman fears

DAVID Christensen and his wife Melissa were tending to customers in their Victoria St supplement store when they heard the first gunshot.

A 29-year-old Sarina man, allegedly armed with at least two rifles, fired a number of shots into the air about 5.10pm on Wednesday in a bid to lure police into the CBD.

The city heart was sent into lockdown for three hours as police negotiated a peaceful surrender.

Mr Christensen thought it was a car back-firing the first time, and again the second time.

"But when that third shot happened 20 seconds later, it was super loud," he said.

"When it went off it just reverberated off all the buildings, it just kept echoing it was a deafening.

"It's not until I saw him that I started to process things. You start to think about what happens in the States, you don't know why he's there, whether he's there to hurt someone or if he's there to make a statement."

The Christensens ushered their customers into the back room. Mr Christensen kept his eye on the gunman as his wife rang triple-0.

He spotted pedestrians that were blissfully unaware, and when he saw a mum and her two kids exit the Dudley Denny Library, turning right toward Gregory St, he knew he had to stop them.

Mr Christensen locked the door behind him and kept pedestrians away from Gregory St.

"There's nothing worse than knowing there's a gunman in the city centre and not knowing where he is," he said.

"People had no idea what was going on, they must have just thought he was a dress up guy, totally blasé.

"He lent up against the side of the car and put his head into his hands and I think he realised then that he had really screwed up, that he had reached the point of no return.

Newsagent was running late to close store when gunshots began

Michelle King was running late to close the front door of her Victoria St newsagency when she heard the gunshots.

She also thought it was a car backfiring, but popped her head out and spotted the man standing outside the NightOwl.

"I was absolutely scared shitless," she said.

"My legs were shaking... they're shaking right now just remembering what happened last night.

"You just never think something like this will happen in Mackay... and you think about the 'what ifs'.

"What if he walked down this way, most of the shops were still open."

One Stop Medical Centre practice manager Trish Macey and her staff had just gone into a staff meeting.

Eight of them went into the meeting room at the centre, located at the back end of The Dome on Victoria St, and switched off their phones about 5.10pm- as shots were being fired.

Nurse Kim Gauci was about to drive home, with her two daughters in the car, when they spotted the armed gunman.

Making sure it was safe, Ms Gauci kept an eye on the gunman as her girls dashed into the clinic to warn her colleagues. They would have to stay put, there was no time to leave.

Ms Macey said they knew they were safe.

"Our nurse heard the gunshot and she said your first instinct is to check that no one is injured," she said.

"I think we knew that we were safe so we just kept on working.

"We didn't have a secret stash of wine, we had a secret stash of donuts."