Westfield Bondi Junction attack: Stabbed mother’s last act was to try to save baby

By RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission

A woman’s dying act after she was stabbed in a Sydney mall was to give her injured baby to two strangers, hoping they could save it.

Six people had been confirmed dead following the attack at Westfield Bondi Junction, as of 11pm Saturday.

Five people – four women and one man – died at the scene. The sixth, reported by Australian media to be the baby’s mother, died in hospital a short time later.

Eight other people, including the nine-month-old baby, were fighting for their lives in hospital after the attack. The baby had undergone surgery on Saturday evening, New South Wales police commissioner Karen Webb said.

The alleged attacker was shot dead by a police officer, who has been hailed as a “hero”.

The attack unfolded before 4pm (local time), after a man wearing a sports jersey and shorts was seen running through the mall, armed with a knife.

One witness told 9 News the attacker looked “scattered and chaotic”.

“He wasn’t going for anyone personally, you could tell it looked quite random, he was just running around with his knife,” the witness said.

The 38-year-old woman and her baby were reportedly the first to be stabbed.

In a video interview with 9 News, two brothers who had been shopping at the mall described the woman running towards them badly injured, thrusting her baby into their arms.

They hid in a store and pulled clothing off the racks to try and staunch the blood coming from the pair’s wounds.

One brother described the injuries as “very bad”, telling 9 News there was “a lot of blood on the floor”.

The other said he thought the baby was going to be OK, thanks to his brother’s efforts.

“The mother, unfortunately … she started to have a lot of blood coming out of her mouth.”

A man with a bollard faces off against a man armed with a knife at Bondi Westfield in Sydney.

A man uses a bollard to keep the alleged attacker from advancing. Photo: Screenshot

Video shot elsewhere in the mall showed a brave shopper fending off the alleged attacker with a bollard.

The man jabbed the bollard at the suspect as he advanced up an escalator, holding the knife.

One witness told news.com.au they saw the bodies of two young people in front of the JD Sports store on level four.

Another witness, Adriana, was with her two daughters at a beauty store when they heard gunshots.

“All of a sudden the front doors were closed and in a matter of seconds we heard some gunshots and got sent to the storage room at the back of the shop. There were about 30 or 40 people there,” she told ABC.

“Everyone was screaming, crying, trying to call their relatives. It was an horrific experience.

“There was a lot of screaming and people just screaming ‘Get out, get out, get out of the shopping centre’.”

The alleged offender was shot by a police inspector who had been in the area and gone to the mall – alone – after being informed of the incident.

“She confronted the offender, who had moved by this stage to level five, as she continued to walk quickly behind him to catch up with him. He turned to face her, raised a knife,” New South Wales Police assistant commissioner Anthony Cooke said.

“She discharged a firearm and that person is now deceased.”

Sydney inspector who shot dead a man stabbing people at Bondi Junction Shopping Centre on 13 April 2024.

The police officer who shot the alleged attacker was being hailed for her “enormous courage and bravery”. Photo: SUPPLIED

Cooke said the suspect was believed to be a 40-year-old man, but his identity was yet to be confirmed as of late Saturday night.

No motive had yet been established, but police were not ruling anything out, he said.

It appeared the man acted alone and there was no sign any other attacks had been planned.

Rakesh Sanga, who owns Bondi Alterations on level five of the mall, told the Sydney Morning Herald he saw the man coming with the knife, and “everyone running”.

Sanga was “very panicked”, he said.

He thought the officer shot the alleged attacker two or three times.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the police officer as a “hero”.

“There is no doubt that she saved lives through her action.”

He described the mall attack as a “horrific act of violence indiscriminately targeting innocent people going about an ordinary Saturday”.

Shoppers outside the mall following the attack. Photo: DAVID GRAY / AFP

The Australian Federal Police were assisting with the investigation, with Commissioner Reece Kershaw saying they had offered “our full specialist capabilities such as digital forensics”.

AFP members had been deployed to the crime scene, he said on Saturday night.

“It is too early to determine a motive and it would be unhelpful to speculate.

“I want to reassure the community that the AFP is providing NSW Police with whatever support is required.”

Webb said police were confident there was no ongoing risk to the public.

“We are dealing with one person who is now deceased.”

Police “don’t have fears for that person holding an ideation, in other words, that it’s not a terrorism incident”, she said.

“The investigation will be ongoing for many, many days but there are elements that we understand at this point in time that don’t indicate that.”

The alleged attacker was known to law enforcement.

The officer who shot him dead would be formally interviewed on Sunday.

She was doing well under the circumstances and showed “enormous courage and bravery”, Webb said.

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