Musician surrounded by armed NSW police after local gun guitar mistakes in Sydney Park

EXCLUSIVE: How an oddly shaped guitar and a terrified neighbor’s call ended with a musician surrounded by heavily armed cops in a ‘tense’ standoff

  • A Sydney musician was practicing guitar in a Camperdown park on Monday night
  • Billy Rockbottom carried a three-string cigar box guitar he calls Suzie Q
  • A concerned resident thought Rockbottom was a man with a gun
  • Police surrounded the 51-year-old with guns drawn until the drama passed

A musician practicing guitar in a Sydney park has been surrounded by armed cops after a concerned local thought his oddly shaped musical instrument was a high-powered gun.

The terrified resident called Triple Zero at around 11:20 p.m. Monday night after seeing what they thought was a man carrying a rifle fitted with a laser sight in Victoria Park in Camperdown town centre.

The man was local musician Billy Rockbottom, the red light was from an amplifier jack and the gun was ‘Suzie Q’ – his three string cigar box guitar.

Sydney musician Billy Rockbottom was practicing guitar in a city center park on Monday night when he was mistaken for a gunman and confronted by police with their guns drawn. “It was a very tense situation,” the 51-year-old told Daily Mail Australia

A concerned resident called Triple Zero at around 11.20pm after seeing what he thought was a man carrying a rifle fitted with a laser sight in Victoria Park (above) in Camperdown  The park is next to the University of Sydney and is bounded on one side by Parramatta Road

A concerned resident called Triple Zero at around 11.20pm after seeing what he thought was a man carrying a rifle fitted with a laser sight in Victoria Park (above) in Camperdown The park is next to the University of Sydney and is bounded on one side by Parramatta Road

A NSW Police spokeswoman confirmed officers were called to the park next to the University of Sydney after reporting a man who may be armed.

“Police were called to this location around 11:20 p.m. last night,” she said.

“However, following a search of the area, no one was found with a firearm.”

Rockbottom had gone to the park around 10:30 p.m. for a late-night twang to avoid disturbing his wife and two sons or neighbors in his neighboring house.

The 51-year-old was sitting on the roots of a fig tree playing with a new amplifier when he was suddenly surrounded by police with their handguns drawn.

Rockbottom had gone to the park around 10:30 p.m. for a late-night twang on the distinctive three-string guitar he calls Suzie Q to avoid disturbing his wife and two sons or neighbors from his neighboring house.  The guitar is pictured on Monday evening

Rockbottom had gone to the park around 10:30 p.m. for a late-night twang on the distinctive three-string guitar he calls Suzie Q to avoid disturbing his wife and two sons or neighbors from his neighboring house. The guitar is pictured on Monday evening

“I noticed what I thought was a police van on the university grounds,” he told Daily Mail Australia. “But I didn’t think about it at the time.

The red light on this amplified socket was mistaken for a rifle laser sight

The red light on this amplified socket was mistaken for a rifle laser sight

‘The next thing, from behind, I suddenly noticed there were torches pointed at me and a voice saying, ‘Are you right there mate?

“The voice became voices yelling at me not to move and put down what I had in my hands.”

Rockbottom, an occasional busker who describes his solo musical project as swamp folk rock, thought there were about 30 policemen in the park.

“I realized there were many guns pointed at me,” he said. “It was a very tense situation.”

Once the police realized Rockbottom was carrying a guitar rather than a gun, they explained why they were called to the scene.

“Someone had seen a man sitting under a tree with what he thought was a gun with a laser sight on it,” he said.

Once the police realized Rockbottom was carrying a guitar rather than a gun, they explained why they were called to the scene.

Once the police realized Rockbottom was carrying a guitar rather than a gun, they explained why they were called to the scene. “Someone had seen a man sitting under a tree with what he thought was a gun with a laser sight on it,” he said.

Rockbottom, who also sings and plays bass with heavy rock band Fleetwood Meth, said he was glad the caller was concerned enough to contact the police and had nothing but praise for the officers who responded.

“I found them to be very professional and polite,” he said. “Until I tried to sing them a song and they turned on their heels and left.”

Rockbottom said he was already working on a song about his meeting Monday night for his upcoming album Tunes to Pass Hard Time which he would call Real Deep, Real Quick.

Rockbottom, who also sings and plays bass with heavy rock band Fleetwood Meth, said he was glad the caller was concerned enough to contact police and had nothing but praise for the officers who answered.

Rockbottom, who also sings and plays bass with heavy rock band Fleetwood Meth, said he was glad the caller was concerned enough to contact police and had nothing but praise for the officers who answered.