Sydney attack: Irish man among those caught up in ‘panic’ as six killed in shopping centre stabbings

Attacker (40) shot dead, child hospitalised and hundreds evacuated from building

The death toll from the Sydney stabbings has risen to seven, including the lone knife attacker, New South Wales Police said.

The knifeman attacked shoppers on Saturday afternoon at the Westfield shopping centre in the suburb of Bondi Junction in eastern Sydney, Australia.

A New South Wales Police officer confronted the attacker and shot him dead as he raised a knife and reportedly lunged at her.

New South Wales Ambulance service said it had taken eight patients to hospital.

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The Sydney knifeman was a 40-year-old and his attack is not thought to be terror-related, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb said.

Police were waiting on formal confirmation, but she added: “If in fact it is the person that we believe it is, then we don’t have fears for that person holding an ideation – in other words, that it’s not a terrorism incident.

“He is known to law enforcement but we are waiting to identify him formally.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs was not aware of any Irish people victims of the incident as of Saturday afternoon, but told The Irish Times it stands ready to provide assistance if necessary.

Irish man Niall Naughton, who is living in Sydney, was in the shopping centre at the time of the attack.

“Everyone was in such a state of panic. Everyone was in such distress and overwhelmed, everyone was screaming and crying,” he told RTÉ's Saturday with Colm Ó Mongáin.

“I could see hundreds and hundreds of people coming running across the road. There’s a two way street there and they were coming running across in front of cars.”

The Clare man added: “This has properly shook me to the core. I’ve never in my life thought I’d ever be in an incident where I’d be in in some form of attack like that.

“Ultimately you turn around and you think of your family straight away when you’re in an incident like that and it can make you quite homesick too

“You want to be with your family. But thankfully I have a good group of friends here that are looking after me this evening.”

Anthony Cooke, assistant commissioner of New South Wales Police, told a press conference: “I’m advised that there are five victims who are now deceased as a result of the actions of this offender.

“There are more than several other people who have been conveyed to hospital – a number of those are in serious and or critical conditions at this stage and I do not have further information in relation to descriptions of those people.

“I know one of them is a small child.”

Speaking earlier, Mr Cooke said: “A man walked into Westfield at Bondi Junction, he left the centre very shortly after and returned at about 20 past three; as he moved through the centre he engaged with about nine 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.

“Very clearly a range of reports were made on the incident, police attended promptly – a single unit officer, inspector of police, was nearby, attended, (and) went into the centre directed by a range of people.

“She confronted the offender who had moved, by this stage, to level five.

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

Mr Cooke said he had not seen anything like the incident at Sydney before and that “this is a very difficult circumstance”.

He said the investigation will be “lengthy and precise”.

He said: “We are working through the crime scene to retain control.

“First and foremost this is about dealing with this terrible situation making sure that people safe, and then working through and returning to normalcy.”

He apologised for not being able to “give more information” at this stage and said he would be “briefing his executive shortly”.

A man said he helped a baby which was stabbed at a shopping centre in Sydney.

The man told 9News Sydney: “The baby got stabbed. The mum got stabbed and came over with a baby and threw it at me – I was holding the baby, it looked pretty bad.

He said: “There was a lot of blood on the floor. I hope the baby is all right.”

The man’s brother, who was also at the shopping centre, said: “He helped with holding the baby and trying to compress the baby and same with the mother. We just kept yelling out to get some clothes, get some shirts and and just help us to compress and stop the baby from bleeding.

“With my brother holding the baby so well and really compressing – I think the baby’s fine. The mother unfortunately started to have a lot of blood come out of her mouth.”

Asked about the attack, he said: “We were just shopping and saw the man run up to the woman with the baby and then we were both ready to go and help out. But I just said to my brother, we’ve got to run in – ran in, told the guys to lock up the doors and then the mother came with the baby bleeding, stabbed and we got them into the store and just got them safe and then rang for help.”

New South Wales premier, Chris Minns, said he is making “immediate arrangements” to return to Sydney following the shopping centre stabbings.

He said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter: “I am horrified to hear about the events at Bondi Junction this afternoon.

“I am making immediate arrangements to return to Sydney.

“I want to thank NSW Police, emergency services and first responders and the community for their bravery in the face of this shocking incident.” – PA

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