‘Just killing’: Inside Bondi Westfield horror

Bondi Junction resident Michael Feros walked to the Westfield shopping centre on Saturday afternoon and saw the chaos unfold first hand. Picture: NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard

Bondi Junction resident Michael Feros first realised something was wrong at Westfield when he and his partner Steph were walking to the shopping mecca and confronted a gathering swell of panic.

“We started seeing people, one lady in particular and a guy, run past us in a panic holding a child,” he told NCA NewsWire on Monday.

“We looked down where the main road is, there were 15, 20 people in a panic.”

Mr Feros, 40, and Steph had strolled down to Westfield for a relaxing day at the eastern Sydney centre, a chance to get a foot massage or visit a nail salon.

In a twist of fate, Steph forgot her headphones, and so the pair walked back to their apartment on Waverley St, and then returned once more to the centre.

If she had not forgotten the headphones, Mr Feros said they would have been inside the mall during Joel Cauchi’s horrifying knife rampage that stole the lives of six innocent Australians.

Michael Feros at the Bondi Junction memorial. Picture: NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard

Mr Feros, on returning once more to the centre, said the scene had transformed into something out of a disaster film.

“The first thing that sticks in my mind is the quiet laneway, as we’re walking through, to just see two people, a man holding his child and a woman next to him, running, and we were confused because it was just so quiet, there was no one really around,” he said.

“There was just this person running, panicking, like semi-screaming, but in a panic, and then to see suddenly about 15 to 20 people running up Oxford St and then coming towards us, it was like something from a movie.”

He said he asked a man fleeing the scene what had happened.

The rampage kicked off just after 3pm. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

“I said, where are you going, what is happening?” Mr Feros said.

“He said, ‘There’s a guy with a knife, just killing people’.”

Other reports from panicked shoppers suggested a mass shooter was on the loose.

Mr Feros took Steph back to the apartment, and then returned once more to danger, hoping to be able to help.

He said the chaos of the scene was “surreal”.

By this time, a massive force of police and paramedics had descended onto the scene and Mr Feros could not enter the centre.

“It is like a crescendo of sounds,” he said.

“The first sounds are screams of people, and they are individual screams, it is not a collaborative scream, just an individual scream here, the sound of footsteps running faster and then groups screams for a second, and then running and running and running, to police sirens in the distance and helicopters coming over, and then the sirens start sounding in the building.

“I didn’t notice them at first, but I noticed them when I was going back. It was a surreal moment.”

Cauchi murdered six people in his deranged rampage, and left more in hospital.

The victims have been identified as Yixuan Cheng, Pikria Darchia, Dawn Singleton, Faraz Tahir, Jade Young and Ashlee Good.

Mr Feros, a construction worker, said he slept “about half an hour” on Sunday night.

“Is there something we could have done?” he said.

“Run in, perhaps, maybe compress someone’s wounds so they didn’t bleed, carry somebody out, try to stop this person. You think of all of these things.”

But from the chaos and horror of the day, Mr Feros said he retained one lonely consolation.

“Situations like this, as traumatic as they are, they do bring us together,” he said.

“We can count on strangers and look on them as friends. And that’s one awesome thing about Australia.”

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