Written by 7:50 am In the News

Sydney attacker targeted women

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

Australian police  identified the 40-year-old attacker shot dead by a senior policewoman at the scene on Saturday, as Joel Cauchi. Cauchi had 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 girlwere injured.

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 New South Wales police commissioner told Australia’s ABC News that it was “obvious” Cauchi focused on women.

“The videos speak for themselves, don’t they?” commissioner 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.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told ABC News “the gender breakdown is, of course, concerning”.

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

New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cooke said that the man had come from the northeast state of Queensland.

“There is still to this point nothing that we have… no intelligence that we have gathered that would suggest that this was driven by any particular motivation, ideology or otherwise,” said Cooke.

“We know that the offender in the matter suffered from, suffers from, mental health,” Cooke said.

His father, 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.

Lone senior police officer Amy Scott is being hailed for tracking down, and then shooting dead the assailant during his killing spree.

A Facebook profile said he came from the town of Toowoomba, near Brisbane, and had attended a local high school and university. A distinctive grey, red and yellow dragon tattoo on his right arm was used to help identify him.

Hundreds of people were evacuated during the attack on Saturday, with broadcast footage showing police locking down the scene and assisting the injured.

A 38-year-old mother – Ashlee Good – was heard screaming when the assailant approached her in the shopping complex.

“The baby got stabbed,” one man at the scene with his brother told Channel 9 News in the aftermath of the attack. “The mum got stabbed and the mum came over with the baby and threw it at me,” he said. Within hours of the attack, police said the toll had climbed to six after Good died in hospital.

Her baby is still in “a serious but stable condition” in hospital, New South Wales police assistant commissioner Anthony Cooke said Sunday.

In a statement to Australian media, Good’s family described her as “a beautiful mother, daughter, sister, partner, friend, all round outstanding human and so much more”. “To the two men who held and cared for our baby when Ashlee could not — words cannot express our gratitude” the statement said. The child, they said, was “doing well” after “hours of surgery”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese praised the courage displayed by “ordinary Australians” in the attack.

“We also see the footage of ordinary Australians putting themselves in harm’s way in order to help their fellow citizens,” he told reporters Sunday.

“That bravery was quite extraordinary that we saw yesterday, the best of Australians amidst this extraordinary tragedy.”

One short video widely circulated on Australian media showed a young man in a white T-shirt fending off the attacker on an escalator, armed only with a bollard. It did not show how the confrontation ended.

Many people praised shopkeepers who gave them shelter in the midst of the rampage.

The PM described the attack as “unspeakable” and “really just beyond comprehension”.

“People going about their Saturday afternoon shopping should be safe, shouldn’t be at risk. But tragically, we saw a loss of life, and people will be grieving for loved ones today,” he said.

“We also know there are many people still in hospital dealing with recovery, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Albanese said he had received messages from United States President Joe Biden, United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon among others.

Such attacks are rare in Australia, which has some of the world’s toughest gun and knife laws.

Images and footage from inside the shopping centre showed a male carrying a bloody knife. Several people inside the mall used bollards to try to stop the suspect, who was wearing shorts and a sports jersey. Videos also showed apparent victims on the ground, with emergency responders administering CPR to one victim.

A young woman who was inside the shopping centre when the attack started said she saw a woman lying on the ground in a shop.

“I didn’t see him [the attacker] properly, I was running, but it was just insane, it was insanity, I wasn’t expecting it.”

Another witness said she and her husband were inside a shop when the commotion started and managed to escape unscathed after locking themselves inside an office room.

“Somebody was injured down there, everybody was looking to see what was going on. Then we saw all these people running towards us and then we heard a shot.”

The six-level shopping centre is located in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and is relatively close to the city’s central business district.

(Agencies; Picture Courtesy: AP)

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