Chaos unfolds at Sydney’s Westfield Bondi Junction following stabbing and reports of an armed individual, at least 4 deaths reported (Updated: 3.50pm)

1104

13th April 2024 – (Sydney) At least four individuals have died following a stabbing spree at Westfield Bondi Junction, a major shopping centre located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. The chaotic incident, which occurred on Saturday afternoon, has plunged the local community into a state of shock and mourning.

The assailant, described by witnesses as a male wielding a large knife, was neutralised by police gunfire at the scene. It remains unclear whether the reported death toll includes the attacker. Emergency services swiftly responded, with ambulances and police units flooding the area to manage the crisis and aid the injured, among whom were a mother and her baby.

Shopper Jason, who was evacuated from the shopping centre, provided a chilling account to 9 News. He described seeing the attacker armed with a “big blade” and recounted the moment police intervened and subsequently provided first aid to the assailant.

As the centre went into an immediate lockdown, terrified shoppers were left hiding in stores. They were later seen exiting cautiously while tactical response teams conducted a thorough sweep of the premises. Authorities urged the public to avoid the area, which remained congested with emergency vehicles throughout the afternoon.

Brendan Blomeley, who was at the shopping centre with his two children, shared his harrowing experience. “It was frightening, it was harrowing … We were cowering in a store with hundreds of other people,” he told reporters, adding that the sound of gunfire exacerbated the already tense atmosphere.

The Guardian Australia’s Nikki Marshall, present inside the David Jones department store at the time, reported sudden panic as shoppers were alerted to the danger. “Suddenly a woman said there’s a stabbing, we’ve got to go,” she recounted, highlighting the rapid escalation of fear among the patrons.

Helicopter footage broadcasted on television showed heavily armed police navigating the rooftops, a testament to the scale and seriousness of the response. Local resident Ted Helliar posted a vivid description of the scene on social media platform X: “We were up there and suddenly, all these people started running towards us. Soon after, dozens of people were sprinting and screaming.”

The police have confirmed that a major operation was underway and have scheduled a press briefing for 5.45pm local time to provide further updates. As the community awaits more details, the focus remains on the victims and the urgent need to address security in public spaces, a concern that this tragic incident has starkly highlighted.