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People leave flowers near the Westfield Bondi Junction where six people were killed. Alamy Stock Photo

Sydney police probe whether shopping centre attacker targeted women as sixth victim is named

Five of the six people who were killed in the attack at the Westfield shopping complex in Bondi Junction were women, as were most of those wounded.

POLICE IN SYDNEY are investigating why a man who fatally stabbed six people and injured dozens more at a busy shopping centre on Saturday appeared to target women. 

Five of the six people who were killed in the attack at the Westfield shopping complex in Bondi Junction were women, as were most of those wounded. 

Police have named the attacker as Joel Cauchi, a 40-year-old man from Queensland. 

“The videos speak for themselves don’t they, and that’s certainly a line of inquiry for us,” New South Wales police commissioner Karen Webb said.

“That’s obvious to me, it’s obvious to detectives, that that seems to be an area of interest – that the offender had focused on women and avoided men,” she told national broadcaster ABC.

Webb stressed that police could not know what was in the mind of the attacker, who was shot dead by a police officer.

“That’s why it’s important now that detectives spend so much time interviewing those who know him.”

Cauchi’s Facebook profile said he came from Toowoomba, near Brisbane, and had attended a local high school and university.

His parents say he had suffered from mental health issues since he was a teenager.

Sixth victim named

The final victim of the stabbing attack has been named as Chinese student Yixuan Cheng. 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed that Yixuan Cheng was among those killed in the knife attack at the Westfield shopping centre at Bondi Junction in the east of the city.

karen-webb-police-commissioner-of-new-south-wales-state-speaks-to-media-at-bondi-junction-in-sydney-sunday-april-14-2024-after-several-people-were-stabbed-to-death-at-a-shopping-center-saturday Karen Webb, Police Commissioner of New South Wales state speaking to media at Bondi Junction in Sydney. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

“She was a Chinese national studying here who’s lost her life, along with Ashlee Good, Dawn Singleton, Jade Young, Pikria Darchia and the security guard (Faraz Tahir) who lost his life, a refugee who’d only been here for a short period of time,” he said in an interview with Triple M radio.

New South Wales police assistant commissioner Tony Cooke said the force had made contact with the overseas families of two of the victims who were travelling to Australia.

“We’ll support those families as we are with all through the liaison officer program to ensure they’re getting the support and information that they need,” he said.

Dawn Singleton, 25, was the daughter of John Singleton, 82, a well-known entrepreneur in Australia who built his success through advertising. He has eight children.

According to her LinkedIn profile, she had studied for a degree in communications at the University of Technology Sydney and worked at clothes retailer White Fox Boutique.

In a tribute released on Instagram, her employers said: “Over the weekend we lost not only an employee of White Fox but someone special to us who felt like a family member.

“We are all truly devastated by this loss. Dawn was a sweet, kind-hearted person who had her whole life ahead of her. She was amazing.”

Ashlee Good, 38, who was attempting to save her nine-month-old baby when she was attacked by Joel Cauchi, later died in hospital.

Police said the baby had undergone surgery following the attack.

A statement from Ashlee Good’s family provided to the PA news agency said: “Today we are reeling from the terrible loss of Ashlee, a beautiful mother, daughter, sister, partner, friend, all-round outstanding human, and so much more.

“We appreciate the well wishes and thoughts of members of the Australian public who have expressed an outpouring of love for Ashlee and our baby girl.”

New South Wales health minister Ryan Park said today her daughter Harriet had moved from a critical to serious but stable condition in Sydney Children’s Hospital.

sydney-australia-14th-april-2024-the-crime-scene-of-westfield-bondi-junction-is-still-closed-off-by-police-and-people-are-leaving-flowers-in-the-mall-opposite-after-a-mentally-ill-knife-attacker-4 Messages left with flowers near the crime scene. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Security guard Faraz Tahir was described by the Australian Pakistani National Association as “courageous” on social media.

“Let us stand together in solidarity, offering support and prayers to those grieving and affected by this heartbreaking loss,” the statement said.

New South Wales Police confirmed the remaining victims were 47-year-old Jade Young, who worked as an architect in Sydney, and 55-year-old Pikria Darchia.

Pikria Darchia described herself as an artist on her LinkedIn profile, which stated she worked in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi from 2003 to 2013 as a designer.

She then spent three years studying at Sydney’s City East Community College in Bondi Junction in 2013.

Joel Cauchi was shot dead by police inspector Amy Scott, who has been praised by Albanese for her bravery.

New South Wales Police said Inspector Scott, 39, has 19 years of experience and is attached to Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command. Her family has requested privacy.

A mound of flowers has grown outside the Bondi shopping centre as people paid their respects to the victims. Flags across Australia are flying at half-mast in mourning.

The Sydney Opera House is to be lit up with black ribbon this evening.

A public coronial inquiry will be held into the attack, New South Wales state premier Chris Minns told reporters.

It will look into the police response and criminal investigation, but also the killer’s past interactions with state health authorities, he said.

With reporting from Press Association and © AFP 2024