We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Niall Naughton, a Clare man living in Sydney who was caught up amid the terrifying scenes in the shopping complex today. RTÉ Saturday with Colm Ó Mongáin

Irishman describes 'absolutely horrific' scenes amid Sydney stabbing attack

“Next thing, somebody pulled back my curtain and said ‘get out, get out, get out, you need to go,” the man told RTÉ today.

AN IRISH MAN living in Sydney has described the “absolutely horrific” scenes he witnessed amid a shocking stabbing attack in a shopping centre in the city earlier today.

Six people are dead following the stabbings, with several more injured, while their attacker was shot dead by a police officer responding to the incident.

Niall Naughton, who is from Boston, Co Clare, described hearing the reaction to the attack as it got underway while he was in a fitting room in one shop.

“I could hear what sounded like a stampede of cattle coming running through the shop. I had the curtain closed in the dressing room so I couldn’t see anything but I could hear everything,” Naughton told RTÉ’s Saturday with Colm Ó Mongáin.

“Next thing, somebody pulled back my curtain and said ‘get out, get out, get out, you need to go, you need to go,” he added.

Naughton, who has been living in Sydney for the last seven months, said the attack shook him “to the core”.

He had been shopping at the Westfield Bondi Junction mall complex today as the scenes took place.

“I went in and I got my hair cut, which was on the same floor that everything happened,” he said.

“We were escorted down to the basement, the storeroom in Zara by Zara staff, and they managed to bolt the door and we got down on the ground, and everyone was screaming, crying.

“It was absolutely horrific and there were even kids as young as four years of age in the room with us,” Naughton said.

“Ultimately, everyone was in such a state of panic and I think everyone was really just in such distress and overwhelmed and everyone was screaming and crying.

“It wasn’t a very calm situation. But, you know, naturally enough, you’d be in that state when you hear of someone stabbing or shooting. So it was just horrific,” Naughton said.

“I was even thinking of my own family at the time. What if there is a possibility that something is going to happen to me and I’m going to die? I couldn’t even reach for my phone at this stage because there was so many of us crammed into the room,” he said.

At one stage, Naughton opened the emergency door to see if it was safe for the crowd of people to evacuate.

“As I did so, 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, there were cars driving at full speed. It was like something you would see out of a movie, it was that scary,” he added.

After getting out of the storeroom, he ran “as far away” from the shopping centre as he could manage.

“Whilst I was running, there was an Irish couple beside me in their mid 30s and both of them were in distress, crying, they were actually in this shopping centre, and saw everything that had happened at the time as well.

“So it was then when I actually got the first sight of some accurate information about the incident that occurred,” he said.

He managed to get a taxi safely away from the scene.

Describing the impact it had on him in the immediate aftermath, Naughton, who works in mental health, said he was shaken from the events.

“I never in my life thought I’d ever be in an incident where I’d be in some form of attack like that,” he said.

“It has shook me but definitely this is going to have a ripple effect towards everybody living in Sydney.

“…I’ve been living here for seven months. I’ve always felt safe. I’ve always felt comfortable living here.”

While he considers Sydney home, he said his thoughts went “straightaway” to his loved ones in Ireland.

When you’re in an incident like that and it can make you quite homesick too and that you want to be with your family,” Naughton said.