Flags to fly at half-mast as rampage victims mourned

PM on Bondi Junction stabbings

Source: X/Anthony Albanese

Flags will fly at half-mast across Australia on Monday as the nation pays tribute to the victims of the shocking Sydney shopping centre rampage.

Queenslander Joel Cauchi stabbed six people to death and seriously wounded 12 others in Westfield Bondi Junction on Saturday afternoon before being shot dead by Inspector Amy Scott.

Police say there is no evidence to suggest the attack was motivated by any ideology.

However, NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said part of the investigation would involve looking at the possibility Cauchi was deliberately targeting women in his attack.

The 40-year-old, who had recently moved to Sydney from Queensland, had a history of mental health issues and had previously come to the attention of police in both NSW and his home state.

Flags will be flown at half-mast over the Sydney Harbour Bridge following the tragedy, while the Sydney Opera House sails will be lit at night with a black ribbon.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called for flags at government buildings across Australia to be flown at half-mast on Monday.

Bondi Junction stabbing victims (from left) Pikria Darchia, Faraz Tahir, Ashlee Good and Jade Young. Photo: AAP

Among the victims was 38-year-old osteopath Ashlee Good. Her nine-month-old daughter was also injured during the mass stabbing and remained in intensive care on Sunday after undergoing emergency surgery.

Good, the daughter of former North Melbourne AFL player and board member Kerry Good, was remembered by her family as a “beautiful mother, daughter, sister, partner, friend” and an “all-round outstanding human”.

An emotional North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson described her death as a “bloody tragedy” as landmarks in Melbourne were lit up on Sunday night in tribute to the victims and survivors.

“That poor little girl … without her mum now – she was a beautiful, beautiful lady,” he said.

Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station is illuminated in tribute. Photo: AAP

Cauchi’s estranged family issued a statement through Queensland police on Sunday afternoon, saying they were devastated by the traumatic events and expressing their sorrow for the victims.

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

“He has battled with mental health issues since he was a teenager.”

They had “no issue” with Inspector Amy Scott, who shot their son dead in what has been described as an act of heroism that ended Saturday’s rampage. Cauchi’s family said she was only doing her job to protect others and they hoped she was coping with the aftermath.

The shopping centre remained closed as a crime scene on Sunday. Shoppers were able to retrieve their cars in the afternoon.

Two brothers, who did not give their names, told Nine News they helped stem the bleeding from Good and her daughter’s wounds after she thrust the baby into their arms begging for help.

Good’s family thanked the duo after they “held and cared for” the infant when her mother was unable to do so due to her injuries.

“We are struggling to come to terms with what has occurred,” they said.

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas, who went to school with Good’s partner Daniel Flanagan, said it was “incomprehensible” that such a beautiful family had been so “aggressively affected” by the tragic events.

Chris Minns: Oficer who shot Bondi attacker a hero

Source: X/Chris Minns

Other victims identified are Dawn Singleton, the 25-year-old daughter of multimillionaire businessman John Singleton, 47-year-old architect Jade Young, 30-year-old security guard Faraz Tahir and 55-year-old artist and designer Pikria Darchia.

Singleton, who posted her fiance’s proposal on social media in July, worked for Sydney fashion label White Fox Boutique. She was described as a “sweet, kind-hearted person who had her whole life ahead of her”, in a statement from the company.

Young, a mother of two who worked nearby in Double Bay, was the third victim identified by police.

Tahir, the only man among the six dead, was on his first day as a security guard at the shopping centre when he was killed.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia said the 30-year-old had sought refuge in Australia about a year ago after fleeing persecution in his home country of Pakistan.

“He quickly became an integral part of our community, known for his unwavering dedication and kindness,” the group said.

55-year-old Pikria Darchia. Photo: AAP

Darchia was named as the fifth victim on Sunday night.

At least 12 others – including nine women – were taken to hospital after being stabbed in the attack. Some had been discharged by Sunday afternoon.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the state needed to get behind the families of those affected by the tragedy as they went through the inevitable grief of such a horrifying event.

Strict gun laws saved hundreds: Albanese

Hundreds of lives would have been lost in the shopping centre killing rampage without Australia’s strict gun laws, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

Albanese joined Chris Minns outside Westfield Bondi Junction on Sunday afternoon to lay flowers as the nation reeled from the random attack.

He said there was no doubt Scott saved lives and so too had Australia’s robust gun controls. They were implemented following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, in which 35 people were gunned down.

“This man wielded a deadly weapon in the form of a knife,” Albanese told ABC Radio Sydney.

“If it was an automatic gun, then we would have been speaking about hundreds of deaths. It is an important reminder of how important it is that we do have strong gun laws in this country.”

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-with AAP

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