‘I saw a woman lying on the floor in Chanel’: eyewitness accounts of Sydney shopping centre attack

Shoppers at Bondi Junction told of their panic as they took shelter from knifeman

Witnesses have told of their panic as they tried to escape a lone attacker who moved through a shopping centre in Bondi Junction, Sydney, Australia, killing six people and seriously injuring others, including a small child.

Sydney residents Huma Hussainy and Mohamad Naveed were at the Westfield shopping centre when they saw a man with a “massive” knife and ran into a nearby Lululemon store. They saw two women lying in pools of blood outside the Cotton On clothing shop before taking shelter.

Naveed said: “We saw the guy with the massive knife and I saw all those people yelling. There were two dead bodies on the floor with all the blood.” He guessed the knife was “maybe 50cm”.

Hussainy said they were inside the store when they heard a gunshot. She said: “I was really scared but one of the Lululemon workers came in and told me it was the police. Then after 45 minutes to one hour, the police came inside.”

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A young woman who had been at a gym inside the shopping centre told Australian broadcaster ABC news from the street outside: “I saw a woman lying on the floor in Chanel. It was insanity, I wasn’t expecting it. I thought I was going to die.

“It’s just like everything, every moment playing through my head,” she added. “I was so scared.”

Authorities are working to identify the male who attacked nine people with a knife in the Sydney mall before being shot dead by a lone police officer who happened to be nearby. Several people are in hospital with injuries ranging from serious to critical. A motive for the attack is not yet clear but police have said there is no ongoing active threat.

Jason, a shopper evacuated from the six-storey centre, told the Australian 9 News channel he saw the lone attacker carrying a “big blade” and then “everyone started running toward the end of the building. Jason said he later witnessed police shoot the man before the same officer administered first aid.

Roy Huberman was in a clothes shop changing room when he heard two shots, followed by fire alarms. Staff moved customers to the back of the shop and out of a back door, where he saw a huge emergency response. “We saw ambulances, about eight police cars, riot police, helicopters hovering from above,” said Huberman.

“Some young women were crying and they were saying that they spoke to a little girl who saw a dead body. I saw people running across Oxford Street and the police came and cordoned it off.”

He praised the composure of shop staff after the alarm went off. “This was a young person and she was just amazing. She calmed us all. She told us where to go when we heard the fire alarm and she said it looks like it is serious.”

A woman in her 50s who did not wish to be named was in the Myer department store when she heard a “code brown” issued. “I heard a scream somewhere outside ... We were then told by staff that something very serious had happened in the centre and that we had to run and hide,” she said.

She was among about 70 or 80 people were guided to a storeroom. “We were told to keep our phones on silent and stay quiet .. There was quite a bit of confusion throughout the hour that we were in there with some orders being to evacuate and other orders to stay put. At one stage we were evacuated and then told to run back inside.” She eventually was told to evacuate and ran out of the centre. Asked how her fellow shoppers handled the emergency, she said: “Some people totally panicked and some people were calm. One woman had claustrophobia in the store room so was very distressed. The consistent theme was confusion.”

Centre worker Josh was in one of the food courts on a break when he heard people screaming and running. He said: “All of a sudden, people started running. There were a lot of people crying. I ran with them.”

Nikki Marshall was inside David Jones department story on level four of the shopping centre when she said she became aware of the incident at about 3.35pm. “Suddenly a woman said there’s a stabbing, we’ve got to go.” Guardian

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