Police had to draw their firearms in response to an "erratic" man grabbing a large tomahawk from a bag that also contained four knives, Albury Local Court has heard.
Shoppers were terrified by the unfolding incident at Thurgoona Plaza back on November 28.
It took two attempts by police to get Blake Cogdell to obey their commands and drop to the floor.
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On the first attempt, Cogdell, 23, got as far as a push-up position before standing up and moving back towards his bag.
Magistrate Richard Funston said this would have been a "very frightening" incident for shoppers.
"Obviously he was completely unwell that day," he said.
The court heard the Thurgoona man had long-standing mental health issues, having taken anti-anxiety medication since he was 12.
He was also aware enough of his erratic behaviour on the day, defence lawyer Emma Harrison said, that he asked supermarket staff to call triple zero.
Ms Harrison said Cogdell had since inquired about seeing a psychiatrist in Melbourne and had attempted to undertake drug and alcohol counselling.
Cogdell had used methamphetamine and, on the day of the incident, was reeling from a relationship breakdown and the loss of access to his young daughter.
"He has a strong motivation to sort himself out," Ms Harrison said, referring to Cogdell and his child.
Mr Funston told Cogdell it was essential that he addressed his mental health issues.
"You do have to get things in order, you know that," he said.
Mr Funston warned Cogdell that any hope of him having a relationship with his daughter "would be completely ruined by drugs".
Cogdell pleaded guilty to charges of possess a prohibited drug over one gram of "ice" he was carrying, possess or use a prohibited weapon without a permit, custody of a knife in a public place and have custody of an offensive weapon in public.
He was put on a 12-month community corrections order.
The court was told Cogdell entered the shopping centre about 1.40pm, wandering around with several bags while pointing and mumbling.
He then loitered in the food court for an hour.
"During this time," police said, "the accused constantly went through (a) brown bag, was talking to himself and acting suspiciously."
Cogdell went outside and tried to force entry into his own ute through a window, then returned, went through the brown bag again and retrieved an 80-centimetre, wooden-handled tomahawk.
Two frightened shoppers called police, then Cogdell approached a woman at a nearby cafe "and commenced to abuse her and accuse her of taking his child".