‘Run, run, run’: Chaos at a Sydney mall as 6 people stabbed to death; assailant is fatally shot

Two women hold or guide their children as they walk behind an ambulance.
People are led out of the Westfield Shopping Center in Sydney where the stabbing rampage occurred.
(Rick Rycroft / Associated Press)

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.

New South Wales police said they believed a 40-year-old man was responsible for the Saturday afternoon attack at the Westfield Shopping Center in Bondi Junction, in the city’s eastern suburbs.

They said that they were not able to name him until a formal identification had taken place but that they were not treating the attack as terrorism-related.


The man was shot to death by a female police inspector after he turned and raised a knife, New South Wales Assistant Police Commissioner Anthony Cooke told reporters.

“This all happened very, very quickly — the officer that was in the vicinity attended on her own, was guided to the location of the offender by people who were in the center,” he said. “She took the actions that she did saving a range of people’s lives.”

The stabbing at the shopping center, which was a hub of activity on a particularly warm fall afternoon, began around 3:10 p.m. and police were called soon after.

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“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,” Webb said in a later briefing. She added: “It’s not a terrorism incident.”


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

“I saw all the people running and I didn’t know what was happening,” said Ayush Singh. “I thought it was some people playing a prank or something, and after some time I saw a guy with a knife running from the footpath to the cafe where I work.”

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He said police arrived quickly and told everyone to stay put.

Singh said he saw the man running just yards away as he wielded a knife. “I didn’t hear him say anything,” he added. “Just a random guy stabbing people. Mad guy.”

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.”

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As the attack unfolded, panicked individuals streamed out of the shopping center, many with children in their arms. Paramedics treated injured people at the scene.


“It’s been an incredibly distressing day for so many people in our community, people who went to the shops today, a packed shopping center, and then got caught up in something we could never imagine here, something so disturbing and terrifying for many,” Kellie Sloane, a local lawmaker, said.

The most senior members of Britain’s royal family, who are also royals in Australia, expressed their shock and sadness over the stabbings.

King Charles III said that he and his wife, Queen Camilla, were “utterly shocked and horrified” by the “senseless attack” in Sydney and that their “hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those who have been so brutally killed.”

The king’s elder son, Prince William, and his wife, Catherine, Princess of Wales, said they too were “shocked and saddened” and their thoughts are with those affected and the “heroic emergency responders who risked their own lives to save others.”

Rycroft writes for the Associated Press. AP writer Pan Pylas in London contributed to this report.