Home » Officer, bystanders hailed for confronting and stopping a man who killed 6 at an Australian shopping mall

Officer, bystanders hailed for confronting and stopping a man who killed 6 at an Australian shopping mall

SYDNEY (AP) — A police officer and several bystanders are being hailed for running “towards danger” to confront the attacker who stabbed and killed six people at a suburban Sydney shopping center.

The shopping mall, one of the country’s busiest and near the world-famous Bondi Beach, was a hub of activity on Saturday afternoon when 40-year-old Joel Cauchi used a knife to kill five women and one man. He also injured at least a dozen others, including a 9-month-old baby whose mother died during the attack, before a police officer shot him dead.

New South Wales Police confirmed Sunday Cauchi had a history of mental illness and investigators weren’t treating the attack as terrorism-related.

The number would have been far higher, according to NSW Premier Chris Minns who on Sunday praised “the ordinary members of the public that cornered and confronted a murderer in the Westfield Shopping Centre, showing what I would call instinctive bravery under terrible circumstances.”

Talking to reporters while standing outside the shopping mall, Minns underscored the role played by Inspector Amy Scott — the first emergency responder on the scene — who shot and killed Cauchi and has since been widely lauded as a hero.

“(Scott)… ran towards danger and showed professionalism and bravery and without a shadow of a doubt, saved many, many lives in the last 24 hours,” he said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also praised Scott in a press conference in Canberra: “The wonderful inspector who ran into danger by herself and removed the threat that was there to others, without thinking about the risks to herself,” he said.

He commended “ordinary Australians putting themselves in harm’s way in order to help their fellow citizens. That bravery was quite extraordinary that we saw yesterday.”

Video footage shared online showed many people fleeing, some carrying their children as they escaped while a knife-wielding Cauchi ran erratically through the shopping center, lunging at people.

Other footage showed a bystander holding what appeared to be a metal pole to hold off Cauchi who was coming up an escalator at the time.

Hundreds of floral tributes and messages for the victims had been laid outside the closed shopping mall on Sunday, which police said would remain an active crime scene for days if not weeks.

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Smith reported from Newcastle, Australia

Rick Rycroft And Keiran Smith, The Associated Press