A young teacher carrying a didgeridoo and a series of indigenous instruments has described the moment he was “swarmed on” by police when chaos broke out at a Melbourne train station after reports of a man carrying a gun bag.
Daylesford resident Will Austin, was on his way to Parliament House to teach an indigenous education workshop when heavily armed police arrived at Flagstaff station about 8.30am on Thursday.
Hundreds of commuters were rushed to the streets amid reports of a gunman and further rumours of a rifle case.
“We were just told by the train driver there was a bit of a delay… then people started saying someone had a gun,” Mr Austin told Yahoo News.
“Everyone was sort of freaking out, it was chaos [on the platform].”
Construction worker Shannon Marrell said he was rushed out of the station as heavily-armed police stormed onto the platform.
“I heard on the train that they had to duck, like they wanted everyone down,” he told reporters.
Mr Austin said he was not sure if distressed passengers may have mistaken his instrument for the rumoured “rifle case” that was initially reported to police.
Already running late for his workshop, the 22-year-old dismissed the commotion, chucked his instrument bag over his shoulder and made a swift exit from the station – at a pace that he now believes may have aroused some suspicions.
“I was in a rush, so I just tried to avoid all the commotion and walk out of there quickly,” he explained.
It wasn’t until he was about 50 metres down the road that he was approached by four “muscly” officers who asked to see what he was carrying.
“They asked to take a look inside and asked where I was going,” he said, adding that they immediately gave him the all clear to proceed.
“It was pretty intense for a morning train ride, it definitely woke me up a bit.”
‘Heavy breathing busker’ sparks major police response
In the moments before his workshop started, Mr Austin shared news of his eventful commute on Facebook before switching off his phone, meaning he was oblivious to the extent of the drama that was unfolding at the station he had just exited.
When police later revealed passengers had mistaken a heavy breathing busker for a man carrying a gun bag, many of Mr Austin’s followers immediately assumed he was the cause of the morning’s commuter chaos.
That was not the case.
Victoria Police told reporters it was a busker carrying a small duffle bag, understood to contain a trumpet, that had aroused the most suspicions.
Inspector Jacob Bugeja said police spoke to the busker, who had been performing breathing exercises on the train, about 20 minutes later in the city to confirm he did not have a weapon.
“I can assure you I wasn’t acting suspicious or practising my breathing,” Mr Austin joked before applauding police for the manner in which they handled the situation.
While normality has been restored to Metro Trains, Mr Austin said this was one morning commute he would not soon be forgetting.
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