Few clues to motive in ‘horrifying’ Bondi rampage

Jack Gramenz |

Anthony Albanese says the Bondi attack is a reminder of the importance of strong gun laws.
Anthony Albanese says the Bondi attack is a reminder of the importance of strong gun laws.

A man who went on a rampage at a Sydney shopping centre, killing six people, had minimal interactions with NSW authorities before the stabbing spree that ended with his fatal shooting.

Those dealings – a police direction while sleeping rough and a routine health complaint – will provide little assistance as investigators try to uncover why 40-year-old Queensland man Joel Cauchi seemingly singled out women in the terrifying incident at Westfield Bondi Junction.

The attack ended when he was shot dead by a lone police inspector, Amy Scott, after she confronted him on level five of the shopping centre on Saturday afternoon.

A major coronial inquiry, bolstered by up to $18 million in extra funding, will examine Cauchi’s “horrifying, vile act” as well as his previous interactions with authorities, Premier Chris Minns said on Monday.

Those include an incident when police asked him to move on from where he was believed to be sleeping rough in Sydney’s city centre and when he sought health care for an ear ailment.

Cauchi’s estranged family said he had battled mental health issues for decades as they responded with devastation for his actions and the sorrow they had caused.

“Joel’s actions were truly horrific and we are still trying to comprehend what has happened,” they said.

Health Minister Ryan Park said the killer had not fallen “through the cracks” in a NSW mental health system that he did not appear to have interacted with since moving to the state from Queensland.

Five women and one man were killed while 12 others – including a baby – were seriously wounded before Cauchi was shot.

A makeshift memorial outside the Westfield Bondi Junction
Fresh tributes to the victims of the attack continued to be left by well wishers on Monday. (Flavio Brancaleone/AAP PHOTOS)

Eight people remained in hospital on Monday, including a nine-month-old girl who had undergone surgery and was in a serious but stable condition.

The baby’s mother, 38-year-old osteopath Ashlee Good, was among those killed in the attack.

Dawn Singleton, the 25-year-old daughter of multi-millionaire businessman John Singleton, was one of the women killed, as were 47-year-old architect Jade Young, 55-year-old artist and designer Pikria Darchia and 27-year-old Chinese student Yixuan Cheng.

Security guard Faraz Tahir, 30, was also killed, while another guard was injured during the rampage.

The mass stabbing might drive weaponry changes for security guards, but the Mr Minns has ruled out allowing them to be armed with guns.

The killer’s motive might never be conclusively known, he  earlier told Sky News.

“The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of women in NSW hospitals and women were targeted by this attacker,” he said.

“It’s been a terrible day, a terrible weekend for Sydney and NSW and there’s millions of people that are grieving at the moment.”

Chris Minns and Karen Webb
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said it was obvious the attacker targeted women. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Police Commissioner Karen Webb said videos of the attack “speak for themselves” and a gendered motive was a clear line of inquiry for investigators.

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

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told ABC Radio he had spoken to the families of several of those attacked.

“The gender breakdown is, of course, concerning,” he said.

Mr Albanese joined Mr Minns on Sunday to lay flowers at the scene.

Floral tributes continue to grow, while flags are at half mast around NSW and other states, ahead of the Sydney Opera House sails being lit with a black ribbon on Monday night.

A permanent memorial is being considered for near the Bondi shopping centre site in discussions with the local council, Mr Minns said.

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