Sunday, May 26, 2024

Bondi attacker shot dead after mass stabbing claims 6 lives at Sydney mall | CBC News

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An attacker who fatally knifed six people in a Sydney mall was shot dead by police in the beachside suburb of Bondi on Saturday, police said, as hundreds fled the scene.

The assailant was shot by a police officer after he attacked shoppers in the busy Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre, police said in a statement.

Five women and a male security guard were killed, police confirmed on Sunday, adding that 12 people remained in hospital with stab wounds — including a nine-month-old baby.

Police at this stage do not believe the attack was terrorism-related, Webb said.

Police block the main roads leading to the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall after a man stabbed and killed six people. (David Gray/AFP/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there was no indication yet of the man’s motive.

“This was a horrific act of violence, indiscriminately targeting innocent people going about an ordinary Saturday doing their shopping,” he told a news conference. “Tonight the first thoughts of all Australians are with the victims of these terrible acts.”

Australia has some of the world’s toughest gun and knife laws, and attacks such as the one on Saturday are rare.

Emergency services were called to the mall, about three kilometres from Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach popular with children and families, just before 4 p.m. local time after the stabbing reports, police said.

Young mother among victims

Young Sydney mother Ashlee Good — who was cradling her nine-month-old daughter, Harriet — was among the victims, her family confirmed in a statement on Sunday. She was 38 years old.

Police say her young daughter is in serious, but stable, condition in hospital.

“We are reeling from the terrible loss of Ashlee: A beautiful mother, daughter, sister, partner, friend — an all round outstanding human and so much more,” the family said in the statement, which was reported by local media.

A blonde Australian woman smiles for the camera.
Good, 38, was among the dead. (Supplied by the Good family/Reuters)

“We can report that after hours of surgery yesterday our baby is current doing well,” the family said.

In Bondi, several people laid flowers at the entrance of the shopping mall where the attack took place.

“It’s such a tragic and shocking event,” said John Tognolini, 65, who came from Katoomba, a town around 90 kilometres from Sydney, to lay flowers.

Witness heard gunshots

Ayush Singh, 25, was working in a cafe in the mall when he saw the attack and then heard gunshots as police responded.

“I saw the guy with the knife running and chasing people. As he walked just past beside me I heard two or three gunshots and the guy was neutralized,” he told Reuters.

WATCH | Police inspector praised for ending attack: 

Sydney knife attacker shot dead after killing 6 in Bondi mall

Five women and a male security guard were killed in a Saturday stabbing attack in the Sydney suburb of Bondi, police confirmed, adding that 12 people remained in hospital.

“People around me were terrified. There were some old ladies I helped to get them inside a safe place inside the café.”

Two other witnesses told Reuters they heard shots.

“Even 20 minutes after people were rushed out of the mall, I saw SWAT teams of people sweeping the surrounding streets,” one witness said.

‘He was on the rampage’

The other witness said they saw a woman lying on the ground and took shelter in a jewelry store.

An eyewitness described the police officer shooting the attacker to state broadcaster ABC.

“If she did not shoot him, he would have kept going. He was on the rampage,” said the man, who did not give his name. “She went over and was giving him CPR. He had a nice big blade on him. He looked like he was on a killing spree.”

Members of police SWAT team hang on to a police vehicle.
Police patrol in front of the shopping mall where six people were killed by a knife-wielding assailant. (David Gray/AFP/Getty Images)

People in the mall had directed the officer to the attacker’s location on the fifth level, New South Wales assistant police commissioner Anthony Cooke told reporters.

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

It appears the attacker acted alone and “there is no continuing threat,” he said. 

The attacker, identified by police as Joel Cauchi, was known to police in the neighbouring state of Queensland. Police say the 40-year-old, who recently moved to Sydney, had been diagnosed with mental health issues when he was 17 and had been in contact with police frequently in the past four to five years.

Several posts on social media showed crowds fleeing the mall and police cars and emergency services rushing to the area.

The mall will remain closed on Sunday while an investigation continues, police said.

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