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Bondi Junction mall killer may have targeted women, Sydney police say

April 15, 2024
Joel Cauchi killed five women and one man before being shot dead
Joel Cauchi killed five women and one man before being shot dead

SYDNEY — The man who went on a stabbing rampage in a Sydney shopping center appears to have targeted women, police say.

Joel Cauchi, 40, sent the crowded Westfield Bondi Junction complex into panic on Saturday when he began stabbing people with a long blade.

Five of the six people who died were women. Several others, including a baby girl, were injured.

The New South Wales police commissioner told Australia's ABC News that it was "obvious" Cauchi focused on women.

The only man killed in the attack was security guard Faraz Tahir, 30, who tried to intervene.

The other victims were Jade Young, 47; Pikria Darchia, 55; Dawn Singleton, 25; Ashlee Good, 38; and Cheng Yixuan, who is believed to be in her 20s.

"The videos speak for themselves, don't they?" commissioner Karen Webb said.

"It's obvious to me, it's obvious to detectives... that the offender focused on women and avoided the men.

"We don't know what was operating in the mind of the offender and that's why it's important now that detectives spend so much time interviewing those who know him."

Authorities previously said the attack was most likely "related to the mental health" of Cauchi, who was shot dead by a lone police officer on Saturday.

The father of the attacker, Andrew Cauchi, told reporters his son had battled with mental illness and recently come off his medication.

"To you he is a monster. To me, he was a very sick boy," he said, in a video posted by The Australian newspaper.

"He wanted a girlfriend and he's got no social skills and he was frustrated out of his brain," he added, when asked about why his son may have targeted women.

Ms Good was fatally stabbed while trying to protect her nine-month-old baby girl, who was also injured and rushed to surgery. After hours of emergency surgery, the baby's condition has improved significantly, state officials said.

"In the darkest of times comes sometimes the brightest of lights and it's something our whole country was holding its breath [for]," New South Wales Health Minister Ryan Park said on Monday.

Albanese confirmed that Ms Cheng was a Chinese student who was studying in Sydney. Members of her family have been informed and are currently on their way to Australia, ABC News reported.

In a post on social media, Ms Singleton's employer — a fashion retailer at the mall — remembered her as "a sweet, kind-hearted person who had her whole life ahead of her".

Tahir was a refugee from Pakistan who had only been in Australia "for a short period of time", the prime minister told Triple M radio on Monday.

Four people who were injured during the rampage have since been discharged from hospital. Another eight continue to receive care in conditions ranging from serious to stable according to local media.

A special strike force has been created to investigate the incident, with New South Wales Police saying it could take months to present its findings.

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said the "devastating and violent attack" had shaken "everybody in the city", while announcing an A$18m ($11.6m; £9.3m) inquiry into the police response, and the interactions the killer had previously had with government agencies.

He also flagged the possibility of erecting a permanent memorial at Bondi to remember the six victims.

Cauchi was already known to police but had never been arrested or charged in his home state Queensland. He had lived itinerantly for several years and was first diagnosed with a mental illness at 17, Queensland Police said.

When asked about Cauchi's interactions with New South Wales Police, assistant commissioner Anthony Cooke said he was only aware of a "move-along-type situation" when he was sleeping rough.

Park said there was no information showing Cauchi had accessed treatment in New South Wales for mental health issues, but that there would be a "deep dive" into his history.

The attack — at one of the country's biggest and most popular shopping centres — has shocked Australia, where mass killings are rare.

Flags across the nation were being flown at half-mast on Monday and the sails of Sydney Opera House will be lit up in tribute to the victims.

Crowds of mourners have flocked to Bondi Junction, leaving flowers and cards to those killed in the attack. — BBC


April 15, 2024
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