A MAN'S hand was almost hacked off and another four people were in hospital with machete-inflicted injuries after a neighbourhood dispute over a cat turned deadly on the outskirts of Gympie on Thursday night.
One man was in custody yesterday, another had been released on bail and seven people were being questioned by police as they pieced together the events that led to the bloody violence in the middle of Oak St just before midnight.
Two machetes, a hammer and a steering wheel brace are alleged to have been used in the fight.
Gympie police said yesterday they received multiple 000 calls about 11.30pm on Thursday from residents of the normally peaceful residential street.
They arrived at the scene to find five people lying on the ground, bleeding from various lacerations.
A machete blade had gone through the bone of one man's arm.
The injured people were all treated at the scene by police and ambulance officers before being taken to Gympie Hospital. Two were later taken to Nambour Hospital.
Gympie police officer-in-charge Snr Sgt Graeme Reeves said one man surrendered to police and was taken into custody.
Oak St looked like a battlefield yesterday, with police tape establishing a crime scene across the front yards of three homes, and blood all over the bitumen, in the gutters and on one driveway. Pools of it were still visible in the grass on the other side of the street. Bloodied bandages and items of clothing were also strewn about.
A car parked outside one of the houses was dented and covered in streaks of blood.
Small children are believed to have been caught up in the brutality but escaped injury.
Simmering tensions between two families are believed to have escalated over the past few weeks, reaching critical mass over the disputed ownership of a cat, and erupting in bloodshed on Thursday night.
Distraught residents at the centre of the violence were warning of retribution and "gang warfare" yesterday.
Police officers from Gympie and the Sunshine Coast descended on the street and began their questioning and forensic investigations.
Snr Sgt Reeves said his message to the community was to not take matters into your own hands if there is a problem with a neighbour.
"Use mediation or ask police for advice," he said.
"There are a number of government agencies and mediation services that can settle neighbourhood disputes.
"Peace and Good Behaviour Orders can be applied for through Magistrates Court.
"Do not confront each other."
Anyone with a problem can contact Gympie police on 5480 1111 or visit the Queensland Police Service website at police.qld.gov.au or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
One man will appear in Gympie Magistrates Court this month on two charges of committing an act intended to cause grievous bodily harm, an offence which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Another man is scheduled to appear in court on January 7 on charges of possession of drugs and going armed to cause fear.