Hero police officers who detained Sheffield machete attacker recount dramatic morning

Heroic police officers who detained a machete attacker in Sheffield city centre have spoken publicly for the first time about that dramatic morning.

Monday, 9th September 2019, 13:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 14:11 pm

Daouda Sy slashed an innocent bystander on the head at a bus stop on Sheffield High Street before following his victim into McDonald's and threatening to 'kill you all'.

It took less than two minutes for officers to stop the 21-year-old, who it later emerged had been high on the drug spice, and pin him to the ground after finding him walking calmly down the other side of the High Street with the machete by his side.

PCs Kal Wright, Josh Lawton, Karen Gunnill and Mike Smith, who are on the response team based at Snig Hill police station and were first at the scene that morning, January 31 this year, each received a district commander's commendation for their bravery.

PCs Josh Lawton, Mike Smith, Kal Wright and Karen Gunnill, who together detained a machete attacker in Sheffield city centre

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PC Lawton described how he and PC Wright had been searching for a wanted man around the corner on Hartshead Square, behind The Bankers Draft pub, and the other two officers were heading to assist them when the call come in.

They raced to the scene, where alarmed members of the public quickly pointed out the culprit.

"We challenged him and shouted 'put it down' a couple of times, which thankfully he did," said PC Lawton, aged 25, who joined South Yorkshire Police just under two years ago.

Daouda Sy

"We got hold of him and kept him on the ground while we ascertained what was happening. We didn't know at that time what his intentions were or what else he might have been carrying. He just kept saying how cold he was."

The alarm had been raised by workers at the Max Spielmann photo centre beside McDonald's, who, like other shopkeepers in the city centre, have a direct link to the police CCTV control room, which relayed the message to officers on the beat.

Officers in the control room were able to track Sy’s movements and direct those on the ground to the scene.

PC Wright told how the system is used by officers on a daily basis but, while it usually helps them track down shoplifters or deal with other relatively minor offences, that morning it really proved its worth.

The 47-year-old victim of the unprovoked attack, who sought refuge in McDonald's

He said he and his colleagues 'didn't really have time' to think about the danger they could have been placing themselves in, which only dawned on them afterwards.

"Lots of different scenarios go through your head afterwards about what could have happened, but when the call comes in you're just focused on doing your job," said the 35-year-old.

"Afterwards we heard Marks & Spencer on Fargate had gone into lockdown because staff there didn't know what was happening. It could have been a terrorist attack.

"It's a good feeling to be able to deal with something like that and for it to be resolved as quickly as it was with no further injuries to members of the public or ourselves. We're just glad we were in the right place at the right time.

"The fact we were able to get there so quickly has hopefully reassured the public that the city is safe and they don't need to worry about things like this happening."

Sy, of Wensley Street, in Grimesthorpe, admitted wounding with intent and possessing an offensive weapon. He was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court last month to 12 years in prison.

Police said the victim of the unprovoked attack would thankfully make a full recovery.