Sydney knife attacker had mental health issues, ideology not motive, police say

Sydney knife attacker had mental health issues, ideology not motive, police say


"We still have nothing to suggest he was driven by any particular motivation, ideology or otherwise"

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – The man who fatally stabbed six people in Sydney had mental health issues in the past and there was no indication ideology was a motive in the attack in one of the city's busiest shopping centres, police said on Sunday.

The attacker, identified by police as Joel Cauchi, was known to police in the neighbouring state of Queensland, and police have spoken to his family after Saturday's attack, New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cooke told a press conference.

Witnesses described how Cauchi, wearing shorts and an Australian national rugby league jersey, ran through the Westfield Bondi Junction mall with a knife, randomly attacking people.

Some shoppers and staff at the mall in Sydney's east tried to stop him and crowds sheltered in shuttered shops.

"We have seen the footage of ordinary Australians putting themselves in harm's way in order to help their fellow citizens. That bravery was quite extraordinary," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Sunday. "It's the best of Australians amidst this tragedy."

The 40-year-old assailant fatally knifed six people and injured at least 12 before he was shot dead by Inspector Amy Scott, who confronted him solo while he was on the rampage.

"This was a terrible scene," Cooke said.

"There is still to this point, nothing that we have, no information we received, no evidence we have recovered or intelligence that we have gathered that would suggest that this was driven by any particular motivation, ideology or otherwise."

Attacks such as the one on Saturday are rare in Australia, a country of about 26 million people with some of the world's toughest gun and knife laws.

Cauchi had recently moved to Sydney. Police said they had searched a small storage facility he had recently rented but found no major evidence to indicate an attack was coming.

Five of the six people killed were women, and the male victim was a shopping centre security guard, police said.

Those taken to hospital with stab wounds included a nine-month-old baby, who was in a serious but stable condition, police said on Sunday. The baby's mother, Ashlee Good, died in hospital from her injuries, her family said in a statement.

There was a heavy police presence on Sunday at the mall, which was closed to shoppers, with nearby streets closed off. A mound of floral tributes to the victims began to grow, with mourners arriving every few minutes.

"The individual stories of those who have 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 have been killed or not - you're grieving today," said New South Wales state Premier Chris Minns.

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

Britain's King Charles, who is Australia's head of state, posted on the royal family's X account: "Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those who have been so brutally killed during such a senseless attack."