Six killed as hundreds flee Sydney shopping centre after stabbing attack

At least six people were killed and eight injured after a man went on a stabbing spree at a Sydney shopping centre on Saturday.

Australian police and ambulance services confirmed the deaths and said that a female officer shot the attacker dead outside a discount shop in the mall.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the Bondi Junction Westfield during a major police operation near Bondi Beach, with 40 emergency service vehicles in attendance.

Initially, five deaths were reported, but a sixth victim later died from their injuries in hospital.

A nine-month-old baby is among the injured, according to paramedics, and the child’s mother was among the fatalities.

Police Commissioner Karen Webb said the motive is unknown, but terrorism is not suspected.

“Things are very raw at this stage,” assistant commissioner Anthony Cooke said in a press conference. “I do not have many details... it is a very big crime scene. This is about dealing with this terrible situation and making sure everybody is safe.”

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Bondi Junction is a large shopping centre, comparable with the Westfield in Stratford in London, and Saturday afternoon is one of its busiest times.

One eyewitness told ABC News: "He just started floating towards us and all I heard was 'put it down' and then she shot him.

"But we were in no doubt, if she didn't shoot him, he would have kept going. He was on the rampage.

"Then she walked over and gave him CPR. He had a big blade on him - she chucked the knife away.

"He looked like he was on a killing spree."

New South Wales Police in a statement: "A critical incident has commenced following the shooting of a male at Bondi Junction.

"Just before 4pm, emergency services were called to Westfield Bondi Junction following reports of multiple people stabbed.”

Emergency service workers are seen at the scene at Bondi Junction (via REUTERS)
Emergency service workers are seen at the scene at Bondi Junction (via REUTERS)

Several posts on social media showed crowds fleeing the mall and police cars and emergency services rushing to the scene.

An eyewitness said he was in a cafe with his two small children when he saw a man “stabbing people indiscriminately”.

ABC News Australia spoke to the witness, who did not want to be identified, and reported: “He saw a bloke in a green shirt start stabbing people indiscriminately, he handed off his kids to his wife who escaped before he started trying to help a woman who had been stabbed outside.

“He said he saw screaming, screaming and it didn’t seem that long before we heard the boom, boom, boom of the gunshot and we thought and hoped that it was the police. The security guard, he said, was dying 10 metres away.

“He grabbed towels there, and there were three people dying right around him (the eyewitness).

“It was just carnage, was how he described the situation as it unfolded, he was very much there after he sent his children and his wife to safety.

“The first responders didn’t realise they were coming in to see multiple critical people, and added the cops were just unreal.”

Chilling video footage has shown the attacker run with a knife around the centre. Another video shows him being confronted with a bollard while on an escalator.

Ted Hellier tweeted: “Something just went down at Westfields Bondi junction. We were up there and all of a sudden all these people running towards us.

“Next thing dozens and dozens of people all running a screaming some bloke yells ‘someone is stabbing everyone get out of here’.”

A witness told the Sydney Morning Herald: “People were so confused and we were told a guy was stabbing people on the floors below.

“I heard a man scream as we were about to go down the escalator.”

Another witness said: “It was just general pandemonium trying to get out of there.

“A lady, she had fallen over on the escalator.”

A woman cries as she comes out of the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall (AFP via Getty Images)
A woman cries as she comes out of the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall (AFP via Getty Images)

Shoppers had been put into a lockdown hold but have now been released.

The incident happened around 4.15pm local time and shoppers were held until around one hour after.

Guy Johnston told the Sydney Morning Herald that he heard several gun shots and screams of shoppers.

“You’d never expect something like this in Sydney,” he said.

Police enter the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall (AFP via Getty Images)
Police enter the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall (AFP via Getty Images)

Commanders are now gathered around the huge crime scene which will take around two days to process, according to reports.

Emergency services were seen to be going from shop to shop, looking for the attacker.

Video showed many ambulances and police cars around the shopping center, and people streaming out. ABC reported that armed police were searching a rooftop parking lot.

Paramedics were treating patients at the scene.

Witness Roi Huberman, an ABC sound engineer, 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.”

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese tweeted: "I have been briefed by the AFP (Australian Federal Police) on the devastating events at Bondi Junction.

"Tragically, multiple casualties have been reported and the first thoughts of all Australians are with those affected and their loved ones.

"Our hearts go out to those injured and we offer our thanks to those caring for them as well as our brave police and first responders."

He has also warned about guessing the motive of the attacker.

Chaplains have been at the scene to counsel police officers, it has been said.