83-year-old John O’Brien, the first hostage to escape the siege at the Lindt Cafe in Sydney, said he was getting a coffee after a routine eye doctor’s appointment when the gunman took control of the building.
O’Brien, speaking outside his home in Sydney’s east, said: “After my visit to the eye doctor I decided I would call in to the coffee shop for a quick coffee which as I usually do every year after a visit to the eye doctor.”
He said he was still feeling stressed after the ordeal but read from a prepared statement which outlined what happened to him.
Monday began for O’Brien with an eye doctor appointment in the city.
Afterwards, he popped into the Lindt Cafe for a quick coffee.
Soon after the gunman, Man Haron Manis, entered the building about 9.45 am, taking 17 people captive. The siege ended just after 2am on Tuesday when police stormed the building.
O’Brien was one of the first three hostages to escape on Monday afternoon.
“I was feeling very stressed again this morning,” The Australian reported O’Brien said. “I need some fresh air and relaxing.”
“(I was) terribly stressed and I had an awful headache — we’d had virtually no food all day long.”
He didn’t comment on the details of what happened inside the cafe before he escaped because he’s still assisting NSW Police with their investigation.
Here’s what O’Brien said.
“First I would like to pay tribute to Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson (the two hostages who died) and offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends,” he said.
“My thoughts and prayers are also with my fellow hostages.
“I’d also like to thank the men and women of the New South Wales police force for the work they have done and will continue to do so in the coming months. And to the amazing people in our emergency services.
“All I was doing was going to see an eye specialist on Monday morning.
“After my visit to the eye doctor I decided I would call in to the coffee shop for a quick coffee which as I usually do every year after a visit to the eye doctor.
“I have never felt such relief as I did when I turned that corner and saw the armed police waiting for me.
“I am so grateful to be home with my lovely wife Maureen.
“I would like to thank the media who have remained respectful and everyone in Australia for their kindness and support — your thoughts and prayers mean a great deal.”
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