Westfield Bondi Mall Attack: Police Identify Sydney Knife Attacker as 40-Year-Old John Cauchi

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Police believe Joel Cauchi, a 40-year-old from Queensland, had mental health problems and that his attack did not appear to be motivated by “any particular ideology or motivation”.

Australian police have identified a knife-wielding man who stabbed six people to death and seriously wounded 12 others, including an infant, at the Westfield shopping centre in Sydney’s Bondi Junction.

Police believe Joel Cauchi, a 40-year-old from Queensland, had mental health problems and that he had moved to New South Wales only a month before he took a knife into the crowded mall on Saturday afternoon and began stabbing people.

Five women and a man were killed in the unprovoked stabbing spree before Cauchi was shot dead by a police officer after he allegedly lunged at her with the knife. Police believe the female victims were aged between 20 and 55 and the man was aged in his 30s.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday morning, New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cooke said authorities were still trying to notify families of the victims, two of whom were from overseas. “Two of them appear to have no family in Australia,” he said.

Cooke disclosed Cauchi’s identity and said he was previously known to police and had bought a storage unit in Sydney. “We are continuing to work through the profiling of the offender but very clearly to us at this stage, it will appear related to the mental health of the individual,” he said.

“There is still to this point nothing – no information we have received, no evidence we’ve recovered, no intelligence that we have gathered – that would suggest that this was driven by any particular motivation, ideology, or otherwise.”

It is believed Cauchi had an interest in knives. Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Roger Lowe confirmed QPS was investigating an incident in early 2023 in which Cauchi reportedly called police after his family took away his knives.

“This gentleman was diagnosed with a mental illness at the age of 17 and has had treatment over the years,” Lowe said. “From our investigations… just in the last number of years, his mental health has declined.”

Cauchi’s family only had periodic contact with their son and contacted the police after seeing footage of the incident, Lowe said.

“The family… are issuing a statement on their behalf with respect to their own condolences and thoughts to the family and friends of those victims involved in this tragedy.”

“Equally they have sent a message to the NSW police force with respect to support of the police officer who has killed their son and expressing their concerns for her welfare.”

The infant injured in Saturday’s attack was in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Sydney’s Royal Children’s Hospital on Sunday after undergoing emergency surgery overnight. The other 11 injured people were being treated at hospitals across Sydney.

The infant’s mother, Ashlee Good, died after trying to save her baby. Witnesses told local media that the 38-year-old mother managed to pass her baby to bystanders in the moments after she was wounded.

Good’s family said Sunday that they were “reeling from the terrible loss of Ashlee, a beautiful mother, daughter, sister, partner, friend, all-round outstanding human and so much more".

“We appreciate the well-wishes and thoughts of members of the Australian public who have expressed an outpouring of love for Ashlee and our baby girl,” the family said in a statement.

A fundraiser set up to support Good’s family had raised more than $14,000 by late Sunday morning.

On Sunday, tributes of flowers began to pile up outside the huge shopping centre in Sydney’s affluent east. The mall remained closed on Sunday and forensic investigators pored over the scene.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australians were “waking up to try to deal with the shock and trauma” of what had happened. He described the attack as “unspeakable and really just beyond comprehension” and praised the actions of the senior policewoman who confronted Cauchi and shot him dead.

Many world leaders have expressed shock, with Zealand PM Christopher Luxon saying all New Zealanders were thinking of those affected. UK’s PM Rishi Sunak said the victims were “in the thoughts and prayers of the British people”.

King Charles added he and Queen Camilla were “utterly shocked” and “our hearts go out to the families and loved ones”. Pope Francis said he was deeply saddened by the “senseless tragedy” and offered prayers.