First arrest, police surge, after post-stabbing riot

Arrest over riot outside Wakeley church

Source: NSW Police

Police have confirmed their first arrest and charges over the riot that followed a stabbing at a church in Sydney’s west, as more resources are sent to the area to quell simmering tensions.

NSW Police said it would continue to bolster its presence after a knife-wielding teenager allegedly struck Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel as he was delivering a sermon on Monday night.

More than 70 additional police officers have been sent to conduct high-visibility patrols.

The stabbing – since declared an act of terrorism – triggered a riot outside the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley.

Police outside the church on Monday night. Photo: AAP

Another 32 investigators have been assigned to investigate the riot, in which some worshippers apparently tried to reach the accused attacker, who was being held inside the church.

In the ensuing chaos, 47 officers were injured and dozens of vehicles vandalised. Several paramedics were forced to shelter in the church as they treated the injured bishop and a priest who was also hurt.

Officers executed a search warrant at a home in Doonside on Wednesday night, NSW police said.

“A 19-year-old man was arrested and taken to Blacktown Police Station where he was charged with riot, affray and destroy/damage property during public disorder.”

The man was refused bail to appear in Blacktown Local Court on Thursday.

Investigators are collating evidence including mobile phone and CCTV vision to identify those involved.

NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley said everyone had the right to go about their daily lives and practice their faith free from violence or intimidation.

“These extra boots on the ground will help provide calm and safety at a time when it’s needed most,” she said on Wednesday.

Fairfield MP David Saliba said the additional police resources would enable broader measures to “promote peace and harmony in Fairfield and surrounding areas”.

The 16-year-old boy who was arrested over the church attack remains in hospital under police guard.

Police are treating the stabbings as a terrorist act after the teenager allegedly made comments in Arabic that referred to insults against “my Prophet” before the stabbing.

Peter Dutton on Wakeley church stabbings

Source: AAP

‘Quiet sittings’ at Bondi attack scene

Elsewhere, the Sydney shopping centre where six people were fatally stabbed will re-open for a day of community reflection before retail trade resumes.

Hundreds are expected to gather at Westfield Bondi Junction in the eastern suburbs to pay their respects to those affected by last Saturday’s attack.

Scentre Group, which owns and operates the shopping centre, said there would be no retail trade but shops would open on Friday with an increased police and security presence.

“Tomorrow’s reflection day will be quiet sittings,” chief executive Elliott Rusanow said.

“The centre will be quiet – it will allow for reflection to occur.”

Rusanow said security guard numbers at all Westfield centres would be increased in response to the attack.

Bondi Junction will resume normal trading hours on Friday, although Rusanow said some businesses would remain shut.

“It will be their [retailers’] choice when they want to re-open,” he said.

The re-opening will mark almost a week since six people were killed when 40-year-old Joel Cauchi went on a stabbing spree.

The Queensland man, who had a long history of mental illness, was shot dead by police inside the shopping complex.

Floral tributes at Bondi Junction

Source: AAP

Six people remain in hospitals across Sydney as a result of injuries sustained during the mass stabbing, including two women in intensive care.

A nine-month-old baby, whose mother Ashlee Good was among those killed in the attack, remains in hospital in a serious but stable condition.

The shopping centre reopening will be followed by a candlelight vigil at nearby Bondi Beach on Sunday night, with a minute’s silence to honour the victims.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the devastating attack had touched people across the state, regardless of whether they knew the victims.

“This vigil will be an opportunity for the community to stand together to support and honour the victims and survivors of this horrific tragedy,” he said on Wednesday.

“I hope they can draw some strength from the fact that there’s many people that are standing with them during this time.”

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-with AAP

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