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Man stabs 6 people to death in Sydney shopping center before fatally shot by police

People are led out from the Westfield Shopping Centre where multiple people were stabbed in Sydney on Saturday.
Rick Rycroft
/
AP
People are led out from the Westfield Shopping Centre where multiple people were stabbed in Sydney on Saturday.

Updated April 13, 2024 at 9:19 AM ET

SYDNEY — A man stabbed six people to death at a busy Sydney shopping center Saturday before he was fatally shot, police said, with hundreds fleeing the chaotic scene, many weeping as they carried their children. Eight people, including a 9-month-old, were injured.

The 40-year-old was stopped in the knifing attack at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Bondi Junction, which is in the city's eastern suburbs, when a police inspector shot him after he turned and raised a knife, New South Wales Assistant Police Commissioner Anthony Cooke told reporters.

"They just said run, run, run — someone's been stabbed," one witness told ABC TV in Australia. "(The attacker) was walking really calmly like he was having an ice cream in a park. And then he went up the escalators ... and probably within about a minute we heard three gunshots."

Six of the victims — five women and a man — and the suspect died. Commissioner Karen Webb said the eight injured people were being treated at hospitals. The baby was in surgery, but it was too early to know the condition, she said.

"We are confident that there is no ongoing risk, and we are dealing with one person who is now deceased," Webb said in a later briefing. She added: "It's not a terrorism incident."

She said police wouldn't identify the man yet and were still working to determine his motivation.

Cooke said a "lengthy and precise" investigation was just beginning.

Some witnesses were shocked at the rare outburst of violence. Australia enacted strict gun laws after a man killed 35 and wounded another 23 in 1996, in Tasmania.

A police officer confronted the suspect, saving lives, official says

Cooke said the police inspector, a senior officer, was alone when she confronted the suspect and engaged him soon after her arrival on the scene, "saving a range of people's lives."

The officer "showed enormous courage and bravery," Webb said.

"If she didn't shoot, he would have kept going, and I don't know how many more he would have done," another witness told 7News, speaking of the police inspector.

A crowd gathers outside Westfield Shopping Centre in Sydney on Saturday, April 13, 2024.
Rick Rycroft / AP
/
AP
A crowd gathers outside the Westfield Shopping Centre in Sydney on Saturday after a stabbing spree killed six people and injured others.

Video showed many ambulances and police cars around the shopping center, and people streaming out, many with children in their arms.

Paramedics were treating patients at the scene.

Roi Huberman, a sound engineer at ABC TV in Australia, told the network that he sheltered in a store during the incident.

"And suddenly we heard a shot or maybe two shots and we didn't know what to do," he said. "Then the very capable person in the store took us to the back where it can be locked. She then locked the store and then she then let us through the back and now we are out."

In Britain, the Prince and Princess of Wales said they were "shocked and saddened" by the stabbings in Sydney. Prince William and his wife Kate, who are royals in Australia, said their thoughts were with those affected and the "heroic emergency responders who risked their own lives to save others."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press