'Obvious' Sydney stabbing attack suspect targeted women, police say

Five women were among the six people killed by Joel Cauchi in his knife attack at a shopping centre on Saturday.

Police have said it is “obvious” the Sydney shopping centre attacker intentionally targeted women and “avoided men” during his stabbing spree as the killer’s father blamed his son’s attack on being frustrated at not having a girlfriend.

Five women were among the six people killed by knife attacker Joel Cauchi in the Westfield shopping centre at Bondi Junction on Saturday.

New South Wales police commissioner Karen Webb said it is a “line of inquiry” that the Sydney shopping centre attacker “focused on women and avoided the men” during his stabbing spree.

Yixuan Cheng, a Chinese student, was named as the sixth victim on Monday.

It is understood that the 27-year-old University of Sydney student had been on the phone to her fiancé when the attacked happened and the call dropped out.

University of Sydney student, Yixuan Cheng, had been on the phone to her fiance when the call dropped out. / Credit: Channel7

Cauchi, 40, from Queensland, had suffered mental health issues since he was a teenager, his family said in a statement. The attacker’s father Andrew Cauchi said he knew why his son, who suffered from schizophrenia, had targeted women.

“Because he wanted a girlfriend and he’s got no social skills and he was frustrated out of his brain,” the 76-year-old told reporters.

“He’s my son, and I’m loving a monster. To you, he’s a monster. To me, he was a very sick boy. Believe me, he was a very sick boy,” his father said.

Mr Cauchi said his son had a “fascination with knives.” The father took five US military combat knives from his son while they were both living in the Toowoomba family home last year for fear they would be used for violence.

The father said his son had become angry and called police, accusing his father of theft. The knives were given to a friend for safekeeping.

“I said to my mate, ‘Why do I feel I’m going to be killed in my own house by my own son with a US combat knife?’” he said.

Police named five of the victims killed in the attack as Ashlee Good (left), Jade Young, Dawn Singleton, Pikria Darchia and Faraz Tahir. / Credit: AP

Four other people died at the shopping centre were named as Dawn Singleton, the 25-year-old daughter of Australian businessman John Singleton, 47-year-old Jade Young, who worked as an architect in Sydney, 55-year-old Pikria Darchia and security guard Faraz Tahir.

Ashlee Good, 38, died in hospital from her wounds and her nine-month-old daughter Harriet has undergone surgery.

Asked during an interview with Australian broadcaster ABC News about CCTV footage which appeared to show Cauchi targeting women, Ms Webb said: “The videos speak for themselves, don’t they? And that’s certainly a line of inquiry for us.

“It’s obvious to me and it’s obvious to detectives that it seems to be an area of interest that the offender had focused on women and avoided the men.

“It has been reported that five of the deceased are women and the majority of victims in hospital are also women.”

NSW Health said she was in a serious but stable condition in Sydney Children’s Hospital with seven other injured people remaining in hospital on Monday. All are in stable condition. One woman is described as serious but stable.

Mr Albanese also praised the “remarkable bravery” shown during the attack, particularly police inspector Amy Scott who he said “ran towards danger and took this guy out and no doubt saved lives in doing so”.

Chris Minns, premier of New South Wales state, centre, speaks to media at Bondi Junction / Credit: AP

“Today’s a day where people will hug their loved ones a little bit tighter. And just to show that we’re a society that sticks together at times like this,” he told Triple M. “Australians will stick together.”

Flags at government buildings around the country and landmarks in Sydney, including Sydney Harbour Bridge, are flying at half mast while the Opera House will be lit up with a black ribbon on Monday night.

New South Wales state premier Chris Minns told ABC News the state government will look at creating a permanent memorial to the stabbing victims.

Describing it as a “terrible, terrible few days”, he announced up to 18 million Australian dollars (£9.3 million) for the coroner’s office in New South Wales to establish an independent inquiry.

He said the shopping centre had been handed back to Westfield by police but there is no schedule for reopening.

In an earlier statement released through Queensland Police, Cauchi’s family said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims and those still undergoing treatment at this time.

“Joel’s actions were truly horrific, and we are still trying to comprehend what has happened.

Three women place flowers at Bondi Junction in Sydney / Credit: AP

“We are in contact with both the New South Wales 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.”

Queensland Police assistant commissioner Roger Lowe told reporters in Brisbane that Cauchi, who he described as “itinerant”, had not been “prosecuted or arrested or charged for any offence within Queensland” and said the force was assisting police in New South Wales with the investigations.

Mr Lowe said: “He has been in contact with the police, primarily in the last four to five years would be the most contact we have had with him.

“During that contact we are aware that this individual has suffered from mental health.”

He said Cauchi’s family had contacted authorities when they saw footage of the attack on television.

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