A man threatening to set himself on fire in a car outside the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney prompted an evacuation of the building. Several hours into the standoff police managed to seize the car and detain the suspect.
The building was put on lockdown after the man parked his car at the front gate around noon local time. While the security operation was underway, the police warned the public to stay away from the area.
Rescuers, ambulances and police reinforcement were brought to the scene while a negotiator was trying to question the man inside the car.
Initially it was reported that the man might have a bomb, with the Daily and Sunday Telegraph reporter Yoni Bashan writing on Twitter that “a man packed the car with explosives, parked outside parliament and remains inside the car,” citing security sources.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Treasurer Mike Baird were ordered to leave the building after tweeting a couple of photos after initial lockdown. O'Farrell however has stayed inside the building. Some reports suggested that the suspect was demanding a meeting with the premier.
The man was reported to have 25 liters of petrol inside the car and was threatening to set himself on fire, according to police sources.
“Fire extinguishers now being bought closer to the man in car who has sparked a massive security operation outside State Parliament,” ABC political reporter Sarah Gerathy tweeted as the story unfolded. Ambulances and high powered water hoses were also brought to the scene of the standoff.
Full on cops with big shot guns now outside NSW parliament pic.twitter.com/z2Tm5kgdzk
— Max Phillips (@maxphillips) December 20, 2013
Birdseye view from across the street of NSW Parliament House. Police were walking up to him without much protection. pic.twitter.com/jHD9yUO35m
— subsonic (@subs0nics) December 20, 2013