RETAILERS and customers hid in back rooms of Queen Street mall shops while police negotiated with a gunman on Friday afternoon.

Ashlea Low, who works in a clothing store in the mall, said about 11.30am her colleague Jacquie Tarres warned everybody needed to go to the back of the store because there was a gunman.

"It was right across from Milanos (café). That's where the gunman was,'' Ms Low said.

"Jacquie saw him first.

"So Jacquie came running up and was like, 'get to the back of the store' there's someone with a gun on Queen St.

"We ran into the back and took the five customers into the back with us.

"We stayed in there for a bit. We went out to see if it was all over and he was still there.

"Police came up to us and told us to stay in the store.

"I was so scared. It was so scary. Nothing like this has happened to me before.

"I'm so shaky and nervous.

"A customer was there said she walked towards the gunman and he was holding a gun.

"I think he was telling them to get away from him.

 He had no shirt on, was bald, really muscly and smoking a cigarette.

"At the time there were just two policemen that were cornering him on each side.''

"He was yelling a lot,'' she said.

"Police just like held their guns up to him.'' 

Premier, Police Minister praise officers for work during stand-off

Premier Campbell Newman and Police Minister Jack Dempsey have thanked Queensland Police Service officers for their outstanding work containing the situation in the Queen Street Mall today.

"Police have done an exceptional job to contain this person, without injury to any members of the public," Mr Newman said.

"I would like to congratulate them on their quick response and professionalism in handling such a stressful situation.

"I would also like to thank the general public for following all directions from police quickly."

Mr Dempsey said all officers involved deserved a "pat on the back" for their good work.

"From the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) to those officers cordoning off the area, each officer has performed outstandingly and performed their duties with the utmost professionalism," Mr Dempsey said.

"Operations in such a populated and busy area can be complex and difficult but the Queensland Police Service's (QPS) control of the situation ensured the general public remained calm and safe.

"I would like to thank the QPS for their swift response and congratulate them for the speed at which they resolved the situation."

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