Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (2024)

Police are investigating whether the man behind a "very traumatic" stabbing rampage at the Bondi Westfield shopping centre in Sydney's east yesterday afternoon had targeted women.

Joel Cauchi, 40, has been named as the knife-wielding man who killed six people and injured at least a dozen more in the attack.

The victims included 38-year-old woman Ash Good, the mother of a nine-month-old baby girl who was also critically injured in the attack.

READ MORE: Witnesses describe helping mother after stabbing attack

Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (1)

Police have confirmed five women and one man, believed to be a security guard, died at the scene. The attacker was also killed after shots were fired from Inspector Amy Scott.

Those injured have been hospitalised in conditions ranging from critical to serious but stable. The nine-month-old infant has undergone surgery and is currently in ICU care.

At a press conference today, NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said about eight of those injured were also women.

She said whether Cauchi targeted women was an "obvious line of inquiry".

"At this stage, we don't know a motive. What we do understand, so far, is that there's no ideological motivation," she said. 

"We do understand that there is a history of mental health but it will be the ongoing work of the investigators to determine what his activities were yesterday and the days before."

Webb said police would work through the "very confronting" and "very traumatic" crime scene throughout the day and into the night as part of the investigation, which could take weeks.

NSW Premier Chris Minns at the press conference said this was a "horrifying and violent attack".

"The individual stories of those who've been killed, the complete strangers rushing in to help, as well as acts of courage and bravery mean that whether you know the individuals who've been killed or not, you're grieving today," he said.

"The entire state will have to get behind those families in the days ahead as they recover and they go through the inevitable grief associated with such a horrifying, horrifying event."

Minns and Webb both praised the actions and "instinctive bravery" of Inspector Scott, who they said ran towards danger and saved many lives.

What we know about about Joel Cauchi

Cauchi was thought to have moved from Queensland to New South Wales last month, authorities confirmed this morning.

Webb said NSW Police were working with Queensland Police in their investigations.

"In terms of the individual, he's not known criminally but he has come to the notice of law enforcement in this state and Queensland for mental health related issues," she said today.

"We're working with them because the holdings may not just be police holdings, they might be mental health holdings." 

Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cooke earlier today said police had spoken to his family and they were cooperating with investigators.

"We know that shortly after coming to Sydney, he took possession of a storage facility that has been identified and we have worked through that very small storage facility," he said. 

Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (2)
Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (3)

He said while the reason for the attack was not confirmed, police expected it was related to the killer's mental health.

The attacker was shot dead by a lone police officer, Inspector Amy Scott, who entered the shopping centre after reports of the stabbings.

Footage captured her, along with several bystanders, pursuing the knife-wielding man before a final confrontation.

"She was just on general duties, just in around the precinct, got the call and went to the scene immediately, and was confronted by the perpetrator," NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley told Today.

"He dived at her and she shot him."

Catley said she had thanked the "humble" officer on behalf of the people of NSW for preventing further deaths and injuries.

"She said, 'It wasn't just about me, minister'," Catley said.

"She said the people, the bystanders around really helped as well."

Catley confirmed that Queensland Police were helping the investigation.

Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (4)

Infant girl undergoes surgery

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park confirmed this morning that a number of people remain in hospital.

"We have around about 12 people in hospital, some of them varying from critical to more stable," he told Today.

He confirmed a nine-month-old baby girl had undergone surgery and was now in intensive care.

Park praised the actions of paramedics and other frontline emergency service personnel.

"Those brave paramedics and those brave police officers, people are alive this morning, Karl, because of their work and their bravery," he said.

New footage shows Cauchi approaching a shopper on the nearly-deserted level five of Westfield Bondi, his knife hidden behind his back.

He is seen lunging at a shopper, who fell to the ground and scrambled away.

Just seconds before, a young girl was standing where the killer would soon be, before she was safely hidden in Cotton On.

Another scene shows the attacker pursued by Scott, the police officer, who is joined by some bystanders, including one armed with a chair.

Moments later, Scott would confront the attacker and shoot him dead.

READ MORE: Prime Minister says shopping centre attack 'horrific act of violence'

Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (5)
Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (6)

The shopping centre will be closed for trade today and the crime scene will remain ongoing for several days.

How the situation unfolded

Police said walked into the centre at about 3.10pm before he returned 10 minutes later at 3.20pm and began stabbing people.

"It is clear that during that engagement he caused harm to those people, we believe, by stabbing them with a weapon he was carrying," Cooke said.

Police rushed to the scene after they received multiple calls from members of the public.

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Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (8)

Video obtained by 9News shows a man wearing a rugby league jersey holding a knife as shoppers flee.

Scott, a senior police officer was nearby at the time and was directed to the man by shoppers in the centre.

"She confronted the offender, who had moved by this stage to level five, as she continued to walk quickly behind him to catch up with him," Cooke said.

"He turned, faced her, raised a knife, she discharged a firearm and that person is now deceased.

READ MORE: Video emerges of shopper confronting armed man with bollard at Bondi Westfield

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Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (10)

"This all happened very, very quickly.

"The officer was in the near vicinity, attended on her own, was guided to the location of the offender by the people who were in the centre and she took the actions that she did saving a range of people's lives."

Webb echoed a similar sentiment for the "enormously courageous" officer who dealt with the matter solo.

"The police officer who attended is enormously courageous as were other police officers that have attended the Bondi area," she said.

"I spoke to them this afternoon when they returned to the station.

Webb added: "She's doing well under the circ*mstances, she showed enormous courage and bravery and she will process that."

READ MORE: Witnesses describe helping mother and baby after stabbing

Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (11)
Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (12)

Cooke said police were "not ruling anything out" in terms of a motive with the investigation in its early stages.

"There's nothing that we're aware of at the scene that would indicate any motive or any ideology," he said.

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Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (14)

Witnesses describe helping mother and baby

Two brothers have described how they helped a mother and her baby, both of whom had been stabbed.

"The baby got stabbed," one of the men told 9News.

"The mum got stabbed and the mum came over with the baby and threw it at me and (I) was holding the baby."

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Despite the brothers and other shoppers doing what they could to compress the bleeding, the 38-year-old mum later died in hospital.

One of the brothers said he believed the baby would survive its injuries.

The husband of one woman injured in the incident told 9News he was relieved to see his wife at St Vincent's Hospital.

"We didn't know what had happened," he said.

"She just got a little, they said, stab in the top right-hand corner of her back.

"She thought she got punched and then she touched herself and there was blood but apart from that, she's okay, she's alive and that's all that matters."

The man said once he saw his wife, the "stress was over".

Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (16)

READ MORE: Video emerges of shopper confronting armed man with bollard at Bondi Westfield

READ MORE: PM briefed on 'devastating' shopping centre attack

READ MORE: Witnesses describe helping mother and baby after stabbing

"No one could tell you anything when we were there," he said.

"It was terrible but she's good now."

Earlier, a grocery shop worker at the centre told 9News he was let out of the shopping centre just after 4.30pm.

"My girlfriend called me, she said that her mum works upstairs, level three and she said, 'Look, please be careful, there's a shooting,'" he said.

"I couldn't hear her well, so I came outside. I just started hearing a bunch of (shots).

"My reaction was to basically put all the customers inside (and) close the door of the shop."

Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (17)

Prime minister says shopping centre attack 'horrific act of violence'

Prime Minister Anthony Albanesehas called the attack "beyond words or understanding."

He said Australians will be "shocked" at the attack.

"This was a horrific act ofviolence, indiscriminately targetedat innocent people going about anordinary Saturday doing theirshopping," he said.

Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (18)

READ MORE: Video emerges of shopper confronting armed man with bollard at Bondi Westfield

"The first thoughtsof all Australians are with thevictims of these terrible acts andtheir loved ones.

"Our nation offersour deepest condolences andsympathies to all those who aregrieving for someone they have lostand we send our strength to thosewho have been injured."

He praised the health workers caring for the eight people - including a baby - who were rushed to hospital.

He also talked about shoppers who rushed to help those who had been injured.

"Todayat Bondi Junction was the scene ofshocking violence, but it was alsowitness to the humanity and theheroism of our fellow Australians,our brave police, our first responders and of course, everydaypeople who could never have imaginedthat they would face such a moment," he said.

"For these Australians, their first instinct inthe face of danger was to helpsomeone else. That is what we holdon to tonight as Australians."

Royals respond

Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales put out a rare personal message on social media in repose to the incident.

The short statement was signed off casually with "W & C" which signifies the post was written by the couple themselves.

"We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events in Sydney earlier today," they wrote.

"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."

King Charles, who has visited the Bondi area a number of times in the past, also offered a formal message of support to the Australian people following the tragedy.

"My wife and I were utterly shocked and horrified to hear of the tragic stabbing incident in Bondi," the monarch said in the statement.

Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (19)

"Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those who have been so brutally killed during such a senseless attack.

"While details of these shocking circ*mstances are still emerging, our thoughts are also with those who were involved in the response, and we give thanks for the bravery of the first responders and emergency services. Charles R."

What we know so far

  • Six people have been killed in a mass stabbing attack at Westfield shopping centre at Bondi Junction in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
  • The man, suspected to be a 40-year-old male known to police, was shot dead by a lone officer at the scene. Police do not believe he acted "with ideation".
  • Eight people have been rushed to hospital in a critical condition after the attack just after 3pm.
  • A baby and a mother were among those stabbed. The mother, a 38-year-old woman, has since died of her injuries. The baby continues to receive treatment.
  • Video appears to show a man wearing a rugby league jersey holding a knife as shoppers flee.
  • Mobile phone footage shows crowds within stairwells, with other shoppers saying they were evacuated to the roof
  • Shoppers helped victims as others cowered in shops for up to two hours.
  • The attacker acted alone and there is no ongoing threat.

If you're struggling, know that help is available 24/7.

Lifeline: Call 13 11 14, text 0477 13 11 14 or chat online.

Kids Helpline: Call 1800 55 1800 or chat online.

Beyond Blue: Call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.

1800RESPECT: Call 1800 737 732, text 0458 737 732 or chat online.

13 Yarn: Call 13 92 76.

MensLine Australia: Call 1300 78 99 78.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000).

Police investigate whether Sydney stabbing spree killer targeted women (2024)

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