Police are investigating an alleged two-day kidnapping that began in Armidale and ended in a stand-off involving heavily armed police outside a Kotara home.
Detectives on Wednesday afternoon had three people assisting with their inquiries - one man remained on the run - as they conducted interviews in an effort to find the truth among what the city's police commander described as "very confused" information.
The 24-year-old woman at the centre of the incident which saw several streets in Kotara shut down for six hours, has told police she had been held against her will since Monday.
She alleges she was taken from Armidale, before her alleged captors brought her to Newcastle in the early hours of Wednesday.
She called police just before 4am and told them she had been held hostage but had managed to escape.
A strong police response followed, including heavily armed tactical officers, negotiators, the dog squad and the Bearcat armoured vehicle.
Police believed there were multiple alleged offenders and possible firearms inside the premises along with an innocent 88-year-old man who was asleep at the property and unaware what was unfolding.
Nearby residents on Park Avenue and Joslin Street were told to stay in their locked homes and roads were closed.
One Park Avenue resident told the Newcastle Herald he woke to the sound of police on a megaphone telling occupants of a nearby home that the property was surrounded and urging them to come out with their hands up.
Between Armidale and here, there will be plenty of opportunities to test the veracity of any allegation.Detective Superintendent Wayne Humphrey, Newcastle City Police District commander.
The 88-year-old man got out of the house uninjured and was taken into police care just before 6am.
A 36-year-old man fled the scene and was soon arrested near Howell Street.
A 30-year-old woman exited the property willingly and was taken into custody.
The woman had been released without charge at the time of publication, but the man was continuing to help investigators with their inquiries, police said.
The stand-off continued until just before 11am, with police concerned that a 29-year-old man and a firearm may have remained inside the house. But when tactical police stormed the building, he was nowhere to be found. Nor were any firearms discovered at the property.
Police were continuing their search for the 29-year-old on Wednesday afternoon. They believe they know the identity of the man - who remained on the run at the time of publication - but said there was "no credible information" to suggest he was armed in the community.
The Newcastle Herald understands police are investigating whether drug use played a role in what took place.
Newcastle City Police District commander Detective Superintendent Wayne Humphrey told reporters that investigators were speaking with a female juvenile witness as well as the three adults.
He said some of the people helping investigators with their inquiries were previously known to police - but he would not be more specific. He also said he could not comment on whether the alleged kidnappers and hostage were locals of the Hunter area, or how the Park Avenue home fit into the picture.
Detective Superintendent Humphrey said the role of police in this investigation was predominantly to "ascertain the true facts" of the 24-year-old woman's allegations.
"I would say at this stage of the inquiry, the information is very confused," he said.
"We won't be proceeding with anything criminally until we are certain what was alleged has occurred.
"We are only slightly into quite a detailed, convoluted and confused allegation and inquiry. Between Armidale and here, there will be plenty of opportunities to test the veracity of any allegation."
Roads at Kotara were re-opened about 11am, but that was complicated by a truck hitting a low-hanging tree branch and becoming wedged on the edge of the exclusion zone where traffic was detouring.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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