‘Deep end’: Guard’s anger over Bondi stabbing

Leaders pay their respects after the Bondi Westfield stabbing. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

A security guard has warned the men and women charged with keeping shoppers and families safe in NSW lack the training and tools they need to fend off crises, while praising the actions of hero Bondi Westfield security guard Faraz Tahir.

Pride Security Group managing director Richard Theodorakis, speaking with 7News two days after the Bondi massacre that left six innocent people dead, including Mr Tahir, said security guards were limited in how they could de-escalate or neutralise dangerous events.

“We have some 50,000 to 60,000 security guards here in NSW, so obviously security is widely used as the first response to a crisis,” he told the news outlet.

“But commonly, we don’t receive the same training as you would as a first responder.

“The sad reality is you probably get more training to work at Macca’s than you do to be a security guard.”

Pride Security Group managing director Richard Theodorakis. Picture: Supplied
Pride Security Group managing director Richard Theodorakis. Picture: Supplied

Mr Tahir, an Ahmadi Muslim refugee, died at the centre protecting shoppers from Joel Cauchi’s deranged knife rampage on Saturday.

“When it comes to responding we have a fight or flight and he (Mr Tahir) decided to fight,” Mr Theodorakis said.

“But he did so with limited tools.

“In a Westfield we don’t see that heavy-handed security that you would see in, say, a prison.

“With a riot squad team in this scenario, the end result would be completely different ... you know, the offender would likely be apprehended and taken into a court of law.”

Mr Theodorakis said security personnel needed the right “tools” to confront dangerous situations.

“I’ve worked as an armed guard and I have been in scenarios where I’ve had a weapon drawn on me, and I’ve had the tools to deal with that situation and I was able to go home that night,” he said.

“It’s sad to know that this person could have potentially had that opportunity as well to defend himself or even try to defuse the situation, but he just didn’t have those tools.”

Bondi massacre victim Faraz Tahir. Picture: Supplied
Bondi massacre victim Faraz Tahir. Picture: Supplied

Scentre Group CEO Elliott Rusanow, speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon, said how venues and shopping centres were guarded would come into review following Saturday’s bloodshed.

“We are undertaking a review of what occurred, why it occurred, how it occurred and what lessons can be learned for a whole range of operational settings, including security,” he said.

“But I will say our security team has done a marvellous job in acting swiftly and in a way that protects the public, and unfortunately it resulted in the loss of life of one of our team members.

“That will be the subject of a series of considerations that will now be undertaken in conjunction with government and the industry.”

Westfield set to reopen

Families of the victims of the Westfield Bondi Junction stabbing massacre will be allowed to visit the site to pay their respects if they wish.

Mr Rusanow said the centre would reopen later this week to allow time and to respect the loss of life at the centre.

Photo shows the knifeman running through Bondi Junction Westfield. Twitter
Joel Cauchi stabbed 18 people during a violent rampage through Westfield Bondi Junction on Saturday. Picture: Supplied
Six women and a male security guard were killed during the incident. Picture: Supplied
Six women and a male security guard were killed during the incident. Picture: Supplied

Mr Rusanow thanked first responders, emergency services and the community for all their assistance and generous words of support.

Mr Rusanow said measures would be taken to ensure the reopening considered the victims, and families of the victims and staff.

He said the families would be invited to visit the site if they wished.

Floral tributes are layed at Bondi junction after the massacre on Saturday. Picture: NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard

Six people – including five women and a male security guard – were killed by Joel Cauchi, 40, during a stabbing rampage at Bondi Junction Westfield in Sydney’s east on Saturday.

The victims include mother Ashlee Good, 38, Dawn Singleton, 25, the daughter of millionaire businessman John Singleton, mother-of-two Jade Young, 47, Pikria Darchia, 55, and security guard Faraz Tahir, 30.

The sixth victim, Chinese national Yixuan Cheng, 27, was named on Monday morning. NSW Police declined to comment on her identity.

On Monday, the Chinese Embassy expressed its sadness about the tragedy.

The Embassy and Chinese Consulate-General in Sydney had been “closely following” the situation after news broke about the attack, with staff contacting the “Australian side immediately to verify the casualties of Chinese citizens and expressed concerns”.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the unfortunate death of one Chinese student and the serious injury of another,” the Chinese Embassy stated.

“We extend our deep condolences to the victims and our heartfelt sympathies to their families, and wish early recovery to the injured.

“We will continue to maintain close communication with the Australian side and do our utmost to provide necessary assistance to the families of the Chinese victims.”

Another 12 people were stabbed during the attack, with five people remaining in intensive care and three others in a stable condition as of Monday morning.

Cauchi was shot dead by NSW police Inspector Amy Scott after he lunged at her with his knife.

‘Loving a monster’

Speaking to media on Monday, Cauchi’s father Andrew spoke of his pain.

“I’m loving a monster. To you he’s a monster but to me he’s a very sick boy,” Mr Cauchi said.

Flowers were delivered to their Darling Downs home west of Brisbane on Monday morning as Mr Cauchi and his wife come to terms with their 40-year-old son’s actions and his death.

“This is so horrendous I can’t even explain it,” Mr Cauchi said.

A tearful Andrew Cauchi, the father of Joel Cauchi, said he was ‘devastated’. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Tertius Pickard

“I’m just devastated, I love my son.”

Mr Cauchi said his son had battled with mental illness for many years and had decided to come off his medication because he was feeling better.

“I made myself a servant to my son when I found out he had a mental illness, I became his servant because I loved that boy,” he said.

“He let himself down, he was taken off medication because he was doing so well but then he took off to Brisbane.”

Family awaits detectives

The family of the Bondi stabber Joel Cauchi are trying to go about their lives as normal as they wait for NSW Police to arrive to speak to them as part of the ongoing investigation.

The parents of Cauchi, Andrew and Michele, have spent Monday morning trying to get through their household chores ahead of an expected visit from NSW Police detectives.

It’s unclear when police are expected to arrive at the Rockville home, about 130km west of Brisbane.

At least one wellwisher has delivered a wreath of flowers at the family home.

The Cauchi family have lived in the quiet suburban home for more than 45 years, raising their son Joel in the Darling Downs community.

People have placed tributes at the shopping centre since Sunday morning. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

On Monday, his family told media they wouldn’t be making any further comment.

The family had previously expressed their thoughts and prayers for the victims’ families, calling their son’s actions horrific.

“Joel’s actions were truly horrific, and we are still trying to comprehend what has happened. He has battled with mental health issues since he was a teenager,” the family said in a statement.

“We are in contact with both the NSW Police Force and Queensland Police Service and have no issues with the police officer who shot our son as she was only doing her job to protect others and we hope she is coping all right,” the statement reads.

Police in both states have said the Cauchi family were co-operating. The family saw footage of the attack on TV and contacted police when they suspected the attacker could have been Joel.

“Incredibly relieving”: Baby’s condition improves

The condition of a baby who underwent emergency surgery to save her life after being stabbed has improved to serious but stable.

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park confirmed the good news on Monday morning as he provided an update on the condition of the eight victims who remain in hospital.

“I speak on behalf of the entire nation who held its breath over the weekend that (the) young nine month old girl who went to Sydney Children’s Hospital is now in a serious, stable condition,” he told 2GB.

“So she’s come down from critical.

“There is a chance over the course of the next day that she’ll be moved on to a ward. Now that is incredibly relieving, I think, for our country.

Her mother, Dr Good, was among the six people killed by the 40-year-old during his rampage on Saturday afternoon.

Dr Good thrust her young bub into the arms of strangers after they had been attacked.

On Sunday, Dr Good’s family shared a statement thanking Australia for their support and paid tribute to the two men who helped take care of the infant.

“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.”

Mr Park said the condition of the eight victims who remained in hospital varied from critical to stable.

Bondi Junction Westfield
A full coronial inquiry has been ordered into the indecent. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Rohan Kelly

Independent inquiry

The NSW government has committed $18m to expedite and expand the Coroner’s Court inquest into the death, in a similar way it did after the Lindt Cafe siege.

NSW Premier Chris Minns confirmed $18m would be immediately set aside for the inquiry, which will look at the response to the incident and any interactions the perpetrator may have had.

“I expect that inquiry will look at not just the NSW police response and the criminal investigation surrounding the events in Bondi Junction on Saturday afternoon but also this offender’s interactions with the NSW government, in NSW Health and government agencies as well as with help from the Queensland government, any interactions that this man had in that state,” he said.

“This allocation will give the court certainty and ensure other inquests and inquiries are not delayed,” the Premier and NSW Attorney-General Michael Daley said in a joint statement.

State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan will conduct the inquiry.

The additional funding will also provide trauma-informed care for victims and families, including appropriate family liaison support.

“The thoughts of our state and nation are with those impacted by this tragedy, and the NSW Government is committed to ensuring victims and their families are supported over the days and months ahead,” Mr Minns and Mr Daley said.

Rough sleeping issue

NSW Police were not aware of any interactions with Cauchi beyond a “move along type of situation”.

“I’m not sure of the circumstances but it was a rough sleeping type issue,” Assistant Commissioner Tony Cooke said.

Mr Park said there was no information about the offender accessing treatment or support for mental health services in NSW.

But a deep dive into the system will be completed.

“He came in contact with NSW Health for a physical ailment, for his ear and that is all,” Mr Park said.

“We’ve got a range of different systems in NSW Health. It’s a very large system.

“But we’ll make sure that anything else that pops up, we’ll make sure that’s available to the coroner and the police in terms of any investigation.

“But initially, it doesn’t seem to be – have much to do in many interactions with us at all.”

Ray Hadley calls for action

2GB radio host Ray Hadley has made a surprise call to action during Monday’s program.

“Chris (Minns), you don’t need a brand new inquiry. You need to make sure the security guards can keep people safe in some way,” he told listeners.

“You must act immediately on unarmed security guards in these areas like shopping centres and hospitals. We don’t need an inquiry.”

Anthony Albanese said a review would be undertaken but it needed to be done in a “considered way”.

“That needs to be done in a considered way based upon a proper assessment. I think that in your introduction to my coming on the program, that you spoke about the actions of police, and they were remarkable,” the Prime Minister told Kyle and Jackie O listeners.

Emergency responders attended the scene. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

Local member Allegra Spender echoed his sentiment and warned against getting into an “arms race” situation by arming security guards.

“We’ve got to do this thoughtfully – how do we make sure that security guards can actually provide that security, but we continue to be a place where you can come, you don’t need to go through metal detectors or anything, just go about your normal business,” she told Today.

Mr Minns has asked the cabinet office and NSW Police to brief him on restrictions in place for security guards in major crowded areas.

“I will wait for that report but I need to say the government is considering any additional measures to keep the public safe in relation to those restrictions,” he said.

Pressed further if that could result in security guards being armed, Mr Minns stressed he was not considering any policy changes in relation to stun guns or firearms.

“We don’t believe that more firearms in the community is a good decision,” he said.

“But we’re looking at the current restrictions that are in place for equipment, for security guards, and the resulting training that would be required if there was to be a policy change.”

Bondi Junction Westfield
People continue to lay flowers on Monday morning. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Rohan Kelly

Hadley’s desperate call from father of victim

Hadley received a desperate phone call from his friend, the father of victim Dawn Singleton in the hours after the fatal stabbing, asking if he could confirm reports she had been killed.

“(Her father) is inconsolable,” he said.

“The pleadings from John on Saturday evening, he thought the worst but he was hoping and praying that there had been some misinformation conveyed.

“I then said I don’t want to tell you what I know but I’ve got to tell you, and I confirmed it.”

Ms Singleton was engaged to be married to a serving police officer who was among those who rushed to the scene when the incident unfolded.

She had purchased her wedding dress last week and was shopping at Westfield for her wedding make-up when she was stabbed.

Brave shopper ran towards screams

Ryan Bramble was shopping with a friend in Zara when they heard the blood curdling screams of women as Cauchi began his attack.

“I just heard women screaming and keep screaming,” he told 2GB on Monday.

“We looked at the front and just saw hundreds of people running.”

He said he was just a few metres away from Cauchi and made eye contact but noticed he did the killer did not seem interested in him.

“This bloke walks around the corner, just really casually … and I notice a massive Rambo knife in his hand,” Mr Ramble said.

Ryan Bramble hero Bondi. Picture 7NEWS.JPG
Ryan Bramble ran into the chaos as the attack unfolded. Picture: 7 NEWS

“I look him in the eyes. He looked at me, we were only a few metres apart, but he looked at me and just kept going. Just a really deranged look on his face.”

It was at that moment that hero police officer Amy Scott came running in off the street and asked where the offender was and what he looked like.

Mr Ramble said he and a few other male shoppers made the quick decision to grab chairs and bollards and follow behind her as back-up.

What was supposed to be just a normal day turned into a nightmare for Bill Mohana.

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He was just saying hello to “the girls” at his partner’s salon on level 5 at Bondi Junction Westfield when he turned around and saw “people stampeding” and a “broken glass bottle” and a blood trail.

Speaking with Nine, Mr Mohana described the confusion he felt during the first moments of the crisis before quickly acting to hide himself and others in the shop.

Bill Mohana, a local business owner, witnessed the tragedy and spoke with Nine.
Bill Mohana, a local business owner, witnessed the tragedy.

“I quickly closed the front of the shop, locked everyone in, turned up the lights, turned off everything, put everyone in the back room,” he said.

“I helped an elderly man that was like, ‘let me in’. I quickly put him in, shuttled them all into the back, closed the door, told everyone, ‘turn off the lights’ to pretend or act like we were no longer in the shop and the shop was closed.”

Mr Mohana said the wait for news was “terrifying and horrific”.

“Like I had already seen the bodies laying on the floor and when I heard the gunshots, I thought, oh, we’re next,” he said.

He said his partner, Victoria Kerr, hasn’t slept for two days.

Radio star’s aunt injured in attack

Radio star Kyle Sandilands has revealed his wife’s aunt was one of 18 people who were stabbed on Saturday.

Yvonne was one of the first people to be stabbed, suffering an injury to her shoulder before she was saved by Bondi Beach lifeguard Andrew Reid.

“We were watching everything on TV, then we found out that one of our own family was involved and carted off to hospital,” Sandilands told Today on Monday.

He said she was discharged from hospital and is recovering from her injuries at home.

‘Female target’ motive probed

Police will look at whether Cauchi was targeting women.

Five of the six people killed were women. At least eight of the 12 victims in hospital are women.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb confirmed that it remained a “concerning” line of inquiry.

“It’s difficult to say … I mean, it’s obvious to us, and the video evidence does show that and so it certainly will be a line of inquiry,” she said.

Hundreds of exhibits have been seized by police and will be subject to forensic investigation over the coming days and weeks.

So far, 50 witnesses have come forward.

Bondi Junction Westfield
Police at the scene on Monday morning. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Rohan Kelly

NSW Police will hand back the shopping centre to Westfield on Monday, but Ms Webb said it would take some time to clean up before it can reopen.

Ms Webb said victims would be prioritised when post-mortems took place this week.

“We anticipate that the post-mortems on the victims and offender will be done this week. In fact, I think the victims will be done first and we think that’s appropriate so they can be given to their families,” she said.

Cauchi will be subject to toxicology testing, but results could take weeks.

“We anticipate the offender will be subject for post-mortem later this week. He will be subject to toxicology,” she told Sky News.

“Those toxicology tests do take time, and it might be some days or weeks before we have any idea what was in his system.”

Police have finished forensically analysing the shopping centre.

The five-storey retail complex was the subject of extensive analysis after Cauchi’s.

Bondi Junction Westfield
Hundreds of flowers pay tribute to the victims. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Rohan Kelly

The attack began about 3.20pm on Saturday, the first day of school holidays.

About 1500 vehicles remained in the carparks as shoppers were attacked, others fled, and emergency services flooded the precinct.

The shopping centre remained an active crime scene on Saturday and Sunday as detectives and forensics got to work. Those cars remained locked away until some were able to be collected from 4pm Sunday.

On Monday morning a NSW Police spokeswoman said the crime scene analysis had been finalised and was in the process of being handed back to the proprietor.

Centre manager Scentre Group has been approached for comment.

The police spokeswoman was unsure what time the shopping centre would be handed back to the managers or if police had been assigned to the centre for the reopening.

Information from Waverley Council says vehicle owners without their cars are to meet at the corner of Grosvenor and Grafton streets, and shopping centre staff and police will direct them.

“Could always do more”: PM’s admission

While admitting the government “could always do more” to support those with poor mental health, Mr Albanese outlined the “substantial investment” his government had made in mental health and suicide prevention systems.

“In NSW, it was evident there at Bondi Junction yesterday (Saturday) that the government and health department clearly identified as being able to provide support for people,” he told ABC Radio Sydney on Monday.

“I thought that was a real indication of how on top of things the NSW administration was, which under the circumstances is quite remarkable.”

Anthony Albanese praised the ‘extraordinary acts of ordinary Australians’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

Mr Albanese added that long-term support required additional mental health practitioners.

With misinformation spreading online following the stabbing attack, including the incorrect identity of the attacker and his motivation, he said it was difficult to control.

“I mean, no child should be subjected to that,” Mr Albanese said. “The police were very clear, people who had videos and photos, they should be forwarded to the police, not posted on X or Facebook.”

He praised the “extraordinary acts of ordinary Australians” following the spate of stabbings at a shopping mall in eastern Sydney that left seven dead, including the assailant.

“It’s a time also to give due recognition to the NSW Police Inspector Amy Scott who ran towards danger and took down the perpetrator, thereby removing the threat, which no doubt would have gone on to other people as well,” he told ABC Radio National.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Premier Chris Minns joined by local politicians (left) Wentworth MP Allegra Spender and (right) Coogee MP Marjorie O’Neill, to lay floral tributes. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

Alongside Inspector Scott, Mr Albanese also praised shoppers and retail workers who helped those who were injured and confronted the attacker.

“Those heroes, who were ordinary citizens, provided incredible support and showed extraordinary acts of bravery,” he said.

Premier’s mid-flight text alert of attack

Mr Minns, who flew home from a family holiday in Tokyo on Saturday, spoke with 2GB radio station on Monday morning.

“I received a text message from my chief of staff saying call me urgently … which I thought was unusual,” he said.

“I left (my family) at the airport and was able to get a flight straightaway. I just turned around and jumped on a flight and came back.”

He said Cauchi’s sole interaction with NSW police was a “move-on order” while he was sleeping rough in The Rocks.

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has made an urgent request for more blood donations after the attack that hospitalised 12 people, many of whom suffered significant blood loss.

‘Selfless’: Tribute to slain security guard

A friend of Mr Tahir has described him as a “great guy” who was full of ambition and who put others ahead of himself.

Mr Tahir was the sole male to be killed in the horrific stabbing attack.

Speaking with Sunrise, Adnan Qadir said it was hard to fathom his friend, who was on his first shift at the shopping centre, was gone.

“My initial interactions with him was through volunteer causes, being president of the association, we worked together on quite a few activities up there, be it Australia Clean Up Day, activities around the community, helping the elderly,” he said.

“He was so big in terms of giving everything he had to the wider community and you could see some of these selfless acts during this tragedy as well.”

Mr Tahir moved to Australia last year, fleeing persecution in his home country of Pakistan.

Mr Qadir said his friend was “really excited” about his future.

“He was looking forward to a stable career, to make a family up here. It is just sad how it all ended up,” he said.