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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 10 December, 2019
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Sydney hostage victim died while 'shielding pregnant friend'

The siege ended after 16 hours when police stormed the cafe.

katrina-dawson-tori-johnson-composite-2-762x428 Katrina Dawson died along with cafe manager Tori Johnson, who was praised for trying to grab the gun off hostage-taker Man Haron Monis at the end of the 16 hour siege. Source: Screengrab/Sky News

THE TWO HOSTAGES killed in yesterday’s cafe siege in Sydney were hailed as heroes “willing to lay down their lives so others might live” in a church service mourning their deaths.

Tori Johnson, the 34-year-old manager of the Lindt chocolate cafe where the crisis unfolded, and 38-year-old barrister and mother-of-three Katrina Dawson died as heavily-armed police ended the 16-hour stand-off.

Innocent people 

At a prayer service in St. Mary’s Cathedral about 500 metres from the cafe, Archbishop Anthony Fisher spoke of how the “heart of our city is broken by the deaths of two innocents”.

“Reports have emerged this morning of the heroism of the male victim of this siege,” Fisher said.

“Apparently seeing an opportunity Tori Johnson grabbed the gun, tragically it went off killing him. But it triggered the response of the police and eventual freedom for most of the hostages.

Heroes

“Reports have also emerged that Katrina Dawson was shielding her pregnant friend from gunfire. These heroes were willing to lay down their lives so others might live.”

New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn did not confirm reports of Johnson’s tussle with the gunman, adding that investigators were still compiling the chain of events that led to the siege ending.

Johnson’s parents, in a statement shared via Sydney broadcast journalist Ben Fordham, praised their “beautiful boy” and called for everyone to “pray for peace on Earth”.

“We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for,” the statement said.

“We feel heartfelt sorrow for the family of Katrina Dawson.

“We’d like to thank not only our friends and loved ones for their support, but the people of Sydney; Australia and those around the world for reaching out with their thoughts and prayers.”

Greatly missed 

Dawson, a rising star in the legal fraternity, would be greatly missed by her colleagues and friends, the NSW Bar Association said.

“Katrina was one of our best and brightest barristers who will be greatly missed by her colleagues and friends at the NSW Bar,” it said in a statement.

“She was a devoted mother of three children, and a valued member of her floor and of our bar community.”

The gunman, widely named in the media as Iranian-born Man Haron Monis, also died in the siege while six people were injured.

Australia Police Operation The public lay flowers in a makeshift memorial at Martin Place. Source: Steve Christo

Mourning 

People in Sydney including tearful office workers and Muslim women in hijabs laid flowers Tuesday at the scene of a deadly siege, in an outpouring of grief and shock that it could happen in their easy-going city.

Nearby florist kiosks struggled to keep up with demand as well-wishers created a sea of bouquets in an impromptu memorial at Martin Place, the city square where the 16-hour drama unfolded.

“Just the fact that something like this has never happened before in Australia, and it just makes you feel so sad,” said Tom Harris, who works on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as he approached with a large bouquet.

“And I just feel so sad and just feel sorry for the poor people, especially at Christmas time.”

Emotions were raw as Australia dealt with the news that the Lindt chocolate cafe had been stormed in the early hours by heavily armed police, ending the siege in the heart of Sydney’s financial district.

Australia Police Operation Staff members from the Lindt Chocolat Cafe with their arms linked pay tribute to their colleagues. Source: Steve Christo

Social media was flooded with expressions of fear and dismay, and pictures of the distinctive city harbour and skyline emblazoned with the hashtag #prayforSydney.

“I will ride with you”, read one note attached to a hand-picked bouquet in Martin Place, referring to the campaign for solidarity with the Muslim community that has seen tens of thousands tweet the hashtag #illridewithyou.

Flags on all government buildings were ordered to be flown at half mast.

“I don’t think I could be sadder,” New South Wales state Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said as he looked at the floral tributes, where emotional onlookers sobbed.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, has extended sympathies to the Australian people following today’s tragedy in Sydney.

 This attack on innocent citizens is a deeply distressing event.My thoughts and prayers and those of Irish people everywhere are with the families of the deceased hostages, with the injured and with all the innocent victims of this appalling attack.

We stand with our friends in Australia at this difficult time. Through our Embassy in Canberra and our Consulate in Sydney, we remain in close contact with the Australian authorities.

© -AFP 2014 

Read: Gunman dead, two other fatalities as police storm Sydney siege café>

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