A heroic Wollongong cabbie who intervened in a high-stakes police foot chase says he drew on his training in the Lebanese army before confronting the fleeing knifeman.
Fadi El Majdalani was awaiting a fare on Station Street about 9.30am on July 21 when he saw a man sprinting towards the train station.
The man carried a knife with a 20cm-long blade and was trailed by a line of police officers.
“There were six or seven police chasing him,” Mr El Majdalani told the Mercury this week.
“The space between them was about 35 metres.
“He was running towards the train station, [where] there were all these civilian people and all these kids.
“I didn’t want someone at the station to get hurt or held hostage.”
Mr El Majdalani crossed the road, placing himself in the knifeman’s path.
He lurched backward as the man swung the knife at his head in a slashing motion, the blade coming within grazing distance of his forehead.
Then, moving in from the side, he grabbed hold of the man around his chest and left arm.
“I tried to help the police because I saw a big knife,” Mr El Majdalani, 37, said.
“I didn’t think, I just [moved] quickly.”
After a short struggle, the knifeman broke free from from Mr El Majdalani’s grasp by removing his jacket.
The intervention served to slow the man down.
Police caught and arrested him just before he reached the station.
Mr El Majdalani, a father-of-four, joined the Lebanese army from the age of 18 under a then-compulsory program of military service.
He received three years’ training – including combat and weapons training – and took up a post as sergeant before immigrating to Australia in 2003.
The knifeman, Nathan Primorac, initiated a tense stand-off with police in Wollongong mall in the moments leading to the chase, prompting multiple officers to draw their guns. He withstood a blast of capsicum spray before bolting down Crown Street.
Last week Primorac pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the incident. He is awaiting sentence.
At the train station there were all these civilian people and all these kids. I didn’t want someone to get hurt or held hostage.