Monday, June 17, 2024

At least six killed and several in critical condition after Westfield shopping centre attack in Sydney

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Six people have been killed and several are in a critical condition, including a baby, after stabbings at a shopping centre near Bondi Beach in Sydney.

Police said the attacker, believed to be a 40-year-old man, acted alone and was shot dead by an officer who confronted him on her own.

Authorities said the suspect is known to them and his attack is not thought to be terror-related.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre, while an ambulance spokesperson said people were still inside the building.

Police confirmed there is no longer a threat following the attacker’s death.

The attack took place at Westfield Bondi Junction. Pic: AP

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Bondi shopping centre attacker caught on camera

One man at the shopping centre told local news how he helped a nine-month-old girl injured during the attack.

He said: “The baby got stabbed. The mum got stabbed and came over with a baby and threw it at me – I was holding the baby, it looked pretty bad.”

The man’s brother, also at the scene, said the mother had “a lot of blood [coming] out of her mouth”.

Sydney Police confirmed the mother died in hospital following the incident, along with four other women and a man who died in the mall.

Eight people are currently being treated in hospitals around Sydney including the child who is in surgery.

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Dying mum throws baby to brothers

Anthony Cooke, assistant commissioner of New South Wales Police Force, said that a man walked into the centre, left, then returned at 3.20pm (local time) and proceeded through the centre where he “engaged with about nine people”.

Mr Cooke added: “A single unit officer, inspector of police, was nearby, attended, [and] went into the centre directed by a range of people.

“She confronted the offender who had moved, by this stage, to level five.

“As she continued to walk quickly behind to catch up with him he turned to face her, raised a knife, she discharged a firearm and that person is now deceased.”

The officer conducted CPR on the attacker until the paramedics arrived but he could not be revived.

Mr Cooke said the wounded were taken to hospital, and one of them is a “small child”.

On the attacker, New South Wales police commissioner Karen Webb said: “If in fact it is the person that we believe it is, then we don’t have fears for that person holding an ideation – in other words, that it’s not a terrorism incident.

“He is known to law enforcement but we are waiting to identify him formally.”

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Police urged people to avoid the area.

Westfield Shopping Centre

A shopper said she thought she was “going to die”.

She told ABC News: “I was hiding in the backroom. I was hearing gunshots. It’s just the worst thing ever, who does that to people?

“I saw a woman lying on the floor in Chanel.

“I didn’t see him properly, I was running. It’s just insanity – I wasn’t expecting it.

“I thought I was going to die. Every moment was playing through my head, I was so scared.”

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‘I thought I was going to die’

Waverley Council said on X: “A critical incident has commenced following the shooting of a male at Bondi Junction. Just before 4pm today, emergency services were called to Westfield Bondi Junction following reports of multiple people stabbed. People are urged to avoid the area.”

Describing the attacker, one witness said he was “walking really calmly like he was having an ice cream in a park.

“And then he went up the escalators… and probably within about a minute we heard three gunshots,” they told ABC TV in Australia.

Witness Roi Huberman, an ABC sound engineer, told the network that he sheltered in a store during the incident.

“And suddenly we heard a shot or maybe two shots and we didn’t know what to do,” he said. “Then the very capable person in the store took us to the back where it can be locked. She then locked the store and then she then let us through the back and now we are out.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “Tragically, multiple casualties have been reported and the first thoughts of all Australians are with those affected and their loved ones.

“It was also witness to the humanity and heroism of our fellow Australians. Our brave police, our first responders and everyday people they could never have imagined they would face such a moment.”

The King released a statement after the incident saying he and the Queen were “utterly shocked and horrified” by the “senseless attack”.

He added that their “hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those who have been so brutally killed”.

The Prince and Princess of Wales also sent their condolences writing on X: “We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events in Sydney earlier today. Our thoughts are with all those affected, including the loved ones of those lost and the heroic emergency responders who risked their own lives to save others.”

Mr Cooke said he had not seen anything like this incident in Sydney before and that “this is a very difficult circumstance”.

Westfield shopping centre is to remain closed and will remain a crime scene, police said.

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