4 wounded in Sydney church stabbing days after mall knife attack

Published April 15, 2024
A scene from a video showing a knife attack in a church in Sydney, Australia on Monday. — screengrab
A scene from a video showing a knife attack in a church in Sydney, Australia on Monday. — screengrab

Emergency services said four people are being treated for “non-life threatening injuries” after an apparent stabbing at a church service in Sydney on Monday.

The incident comes just two days after a knife rampage in an eastern Sydney shopping mall killed six people.

A live stream showed Monday’s gruesome attack, which took place during a service at an Assyrian church in the west of the city.

The video showed a man dressed in black approaching a bishop at the dais, raising his right arm and slashing at the preacher with a knife, prompting panic and screams among the congregation.

Several people appeared to rush to help subdue the attacker.

Officers arrested a male and he is assisting police with inquiries, a police statement said.

The injured people suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were being treated by paramedics, police said.

The ambulance service told AFP that four men aged between 20 and 70 were being treated for injuries, including lacerations.

Local media said the incident occurred at the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Sydney’s western suburb of Wakeley.

The neighbourhood is a hub for Sydney’s small Christian Assyrian community, many of whom fled persecution and war in Iraq and Syria.

The church holds a prayer session every Monday evening.

Police said they began to receive emergency calls from the scene “about 7:10pm”.

They urged the public to avoid the area.

This is the second stabbing incident in Sydney after six people were killed in a knife attack at a mall in Sydney’s Bondi area on Saturday.

The man may have targeted women, police said earlier today, as the attacker’s father opened up about his son’s long history of mental illness and frustrations with women.

Clad in shorts and an Australian national rugby league jersey, Joel Cauchi, 40, roamed through the busy Westfield Bondi Junction on Saturday with a large knife. Five of the six people he killed were women as were the majority of the 12 injured.

He was shot to death by Inspector Amy Scott, who confronted him alone on the fifth floor after a pursuit through the mall.

The attacker’s father, Andrew Cauchi, told reporters today he was devastated by the news and said his son had a long history of mental illness and frustrations with women.

“He wanted a girlfriend and he has no social skills and he was frustrated out of his brain,” he said in comments reported by The Australian newspaper.

Andrew said he had taken five US army knives from Joel when Joel visited him last year as he feared he could get stabbed.

The comments came hours after senior police officers said they were investigating the possibility the attacker had focused on women.

“It’s obvious to me, it’s obvious to detectives that seems to be an area of interest that the offender had focused on women and avoided the men,” New South Wales state Police Commissioner Karen Webb told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“The videos speak for themselves, don’t they? That’s certainly a line for inquiry for us.” Police have said there was no indication ideology was a motive.

The only man killed during the attack was a 30-year-old security guard, Faraz Tahir, who had arrived in Australia last year as a refugee from Pakistan, according to the Ahmadi community of Australia, to which he belonged.

Authorities earlier today identified the sixth victim as Chinese national Yixuan Cheng who was studying in the country.

The New South Wales government also announced an A$18 million ($12m) independent coronial inquest into the attack but Premier Chris Minns ruled out new rules that would allow private security guards to carry firearms.

Day of mourning

Thousands of flowers and wreaths lay in a makeshift memorial outside the mall today as hundreds came from across the city to honour those killed.

 Australian PM Anthony Albanese (C) stands with New South Wales Premier Chris Minns (4th R) and other officials as they prepare to leave flowers outside the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall in Sydney on April 14. — AFP
Australian PM Anthony Albanese (C) stands with New South Wales Premier Chris Minns (4th R) and other officials as they prepare to leave flowers outside the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall in Sydney on April 14. — AFP

“It’s shocking something like this could happen so close to home,” said Wren Wyatt, who paid respects at the memorial.

“I’m still trying to get back to everyday life. I’ve taken today off to try and get my head better,” she added.

Wyatt said she was walking past the mall on Saturday when a crowd rushed past her screaming and security told her to flee.

David Spencer travelled more than 50 kilometres from the city’s west with his two young sons to lay a wreath as a family after watching his eldest react with terror to the news.

Mass killings are rare in the country of about 27m people, which has some of the world’s toughest gun and knife laws.

The Australian national flag is flying at half-mast across the country, including at the Parliament House and Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, in honour of the victims. Sydney Opera House’s sails will be lit with a black ribbon on Monday evening.

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