Home News After stabbing rampage, Australia grapples with questions of how and why

After stabbing rampage, Australia grapples with questions of how and why

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It’s a perfect mid-autumn day with blue skies and temperatures approaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the kind of weather that makes Bondi on Australia’s east coast one of the most popular places in the world.

But by the end of the day, any sense of normalcy was shattered. A knife-wielding attacker stabbed nearly 20 people, including a nine-month-old girl, at a shopping center a mile from a beach in Sydney’s suburbs. Six victims, including the girl’s mother, have died and about a dozen others are being treated in hospital. The attacker, whose motive was unclear, was shot dead by a police officer.

It was one of Australia’s deadliest mass killings in recent decades, leaving many shocked and questioning how a tragedy of this magnitude could happen in a country known for its relative safety.

Police were searching a crime scene across several floors of the sprawling Westfield Bondi Junction shopping center on Sunday. They also interviewed hundreds of witnesses to Saturday’s attack, trying to piece together the chronology of the riots that shattered the sense of security in affluent suburbs of Australia’s largest city.

Portraits of the victims began to emerge, all but one of whom were women. They include a new mother, a Pakistani security guard fleeing persecution and a young fashion industry employee, according to people familiar with the matter.

Police identified the attacker as 40-year-old Joel Cauchi, who arrived in the Sydney area a month ago from the country’s northeastern state of Queensland.

It’s unclear why the man, who police say has a history of mental illness, began terrorizing shoppers Saturday afternoon, marching through the mall’s upper floors and stabbing people with a long knife.

Anthony Cook, assistant police commissioner for New South Wales, which includes Sydney, said in a briefing: “To date we have not received any evidence that this was motivated by any particular motive, ideological or other. Driven.” Sunday morning.

Authorities said Mr Couch had numerous interactions with Queensland police over mental issues but he was never arrested.

As of Sunday evening, police had identified only one victim, 47-year-old Jade Young. But the family of another victim, Ashlee Good, confirmed in a statement that she and her young daughter were among those stabbed. The baby underwent several hours of surgery on Saturday and was doing well, but Ms Goode did not survive, the family said.

“We are trying to come to terms with what happened,” Ms Goode’s family said in a statement on Sunday.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said in a statement Faraz Tahir, a 30-year-old security guard, died while protecting others during the attack. The statement said he arrived in Australia a year ago as a refugee from his native Pakistan and quickly became a loyal member of the local Muslim community.

In a separate statement on social media, online fashion retailer White Fox Boutique said one of the victims was employee Dawn Singleton. According to her LinkedIn page, she works as an e-commerce assistant and graduated from college in 2019.

By noon Sunday, a makeshift memorial across the street from the mall was filled with about 100 flowers, wreaths and balloons, and residents walking their dogs or drinking morning coffee stood nearby and talked about their disbelief at what happened.

Hedy Davant, 71, who has lived a few blocks from the mall for three decades, said the mall is the focal point of the area and she goes there almost every day for shopping, dental appointments and sometimes Just walk around.

“This is where the community gathers,” said Ms. Davant, who was not present when the stabbing occurred. “It’s sad. This is a very good area and we don’t need this.”

Kristie Spong, 54, had gone to the mall with her daughter just days before and returned Sunday to lay flowers, makeup and tears streaming down her face.

“These things don’t happen in Australia,” she said. “We just think we’re a happy country because we have good gun control.”



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