MELBOURNE (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - For about two hours, a shirtless Malaysian who called himself the "Messiah" held siege at a restaurant in Melbourne on Tuesday (Oct 27).
Police were called to the Little Ipoh Restaurant just after 1pm local time following reports that a man clutching a knife and a fork was arguing with staff at the eatery, The Daily Mail reported.
The man charged at officers with his weapons when they arrived and was sprayed with pepper spray before barricading himself inside the Malaysian-owned restaurant - a popular location for students and workers in the city centre since 2014.
Speaking through the window which he had smashed, members of the Australian special operations group, carrying shields and assault rifles, negotiated from the street with the man who was in his 20s.
He then threw some items from the window at police, including apples, oranges and a mobile telephone, as he screamed and pleaded to speak to his mother and his "missus".
Later, he was seen lying down by the window wearing sunglasses and appeared to be taking photos of himself on his mobile phone, posing and making gestures towards the media assembled there.
Brandishing a knife, he eventually walked out of the second floor, La Trobe Street restaurant just after 3pm, holding his bloodied hands in the air and still ranting as the heavily armed police rushed to him.
In a telephone interview, The Star's Victoria Brown spoke to restaurant owner Raja Yasmin Raja Abdul.
"The man had visited my restaurant a couple of times before. He is Malaysian, but I don't know his name. I only know that his nickname is Panjang because he is tall," Raja Yasmin said.
The 44-year-old from Ipoh said the man was not a regular customer, but had visited a number of times, most recently on Saturday and Sunday.
"He seemed normal. And from previous conversations with him, he said that he had a job in Queensland, but he was now jobless due to some internal problems and had no money," she said.
"He sounded depressed. So I encouraged him to ask around for jobs."
Raja Yasmin said that the man only became aggressive after visiting her restaurant at around noon on Tuesday.
"He came in and told my manager that he was hungry and wanted to eat, but he had no money. My manager sensed that something was not right and said that she would bring him some food for free," she said.
The manager said that the man was talking to himself and pacing around the restaurant.
"He would ask my manager weird things, and was talking nonsense and yelling. He then threatened her with a fork saying that he would kill her if she called the police.
"Thankfully, she managed to sneak out from the back and call the police. My husband and three customers also got out quickly," said Raja Yasmin.
She also clarified that there was no dispute or argument as reported by certain media publications.
"There has been quite a bit of damage to the restaurant. He pulled out our CCTV cameras, smashed our computer, broke glasses and jugs. He also took our money and threw it out the window.
"The mobile phone he was seen using was ours, and he threw it out as well," she said, adding that she was just unlucky. "I pity him. I look at him and I feel sorry," she said.
It was reported in Australia's The Sun that Raja Yasmin's husband was investigated by the authorities for immigration-related matters last year.