Bondi Junction massacre: Sydney mourns victims as country reels from horror

Headshot of Remy Varga
Remy Varga
The Nightly
5 Min Read
Some of the flowers left at makeshift memorial outside the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre .
Some of the flowers left at makeshift memorial outside the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre . Credit: FLAVIO BRANCALEONE/AAPIMAGE

Flags have flown at half mast across Australia to mark a national day of mourning as the country continues to grapple with the horror of the Bondi Junction massacre in which six innocent people lost their lives.

With people in the eastern suburbs of Sydney still struggling to come to terms with the “truly horrible experience” the sixth victim of Joel Cauchi’s knife rampage was identified.

Chinese national Yixuan Cheng was on the phone to her fiance minutes before Cauchi attacked her at the Westfield shopping complex, one of the busiest precincts in Sydney, in Bondi Junction on Saturday.

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Her identity was revealed as the father of 40-year-old mass murderer Cauchi told reporters outside his home in the Queensland city of Toowoomba that he still loved his son but that he was “loving a monster”.

On Monday, NSW Premier Chris Minns said the State had been devastated by the tragedy as he announced $18 million in funding to establish an independent coronial inquiry into the massacre.

Hero policewoman Inspector Amy Scott shot and killed Andrew Cauchi.
Hero policewoman Inspector Amy Scott shot and killed Andrew Cauchi. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

“The weekend was really difficult for millions of people, whether you knew one of the people killed or not,” he said.

“The families are grieving, with the terrible ramifications of this violent attack and communities are coming together.

“There’s a national day of mourning, flags are at half-mast, it’s a respectful time in Sydney at the moment.”

Architect Jade Young was stabbed to death in the attack.
Architect Jade Young was stabbed to death in the attack. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

Mr Minns has also ordered a review of the current restrictions on security guards working at major crowded centres, such as public hospitals and retail venues, although he stressed he did not believe more guns were needed.

Cauchi entered the Westfield at Bondi Junction just after 3pm on Saturday and began to attack shoppers with a 30cm knife before he was shot dead by NSW Police Insp. Amy Scott, a career cop with 19 years’ experience.

Matas Katinas was working at Country Road inside the shopping complex when he heard a loud crash followed by gunshots and people screaming.

He said he was terrified and fled with the hordes of shoppers, shoved around as people desperately tried to escape.

“I never expected this would happen in Bondi Junction like I always felt safe,” Mr Katinas said.

“Innocent people have been killed and I heard gunshots and I heard people yelling and crying, it’s just a truly horrible experience. “

As well as Ms Cheng, the other victims of Cauchi’s murderous rampage are Dawn Singleton, the daughter of millionaire businessman John Singleton; Jade Young, an architect and mother of two; Pikria Darchia, a 55-year-old artist; Faraz Tahir, a security guard on his first day at work; and Ashlee Good, a first-time mother who gave her injured baby to strangers after she was attacked.

The nine-month-old is in a stable condition at the Royal Children’s Hospital after undergoing surgery. Another six people are undergoing treatment at various hospitals across Sydney.

The sixth victim of Saturday’s Bondi Junction Westfield stabbing was named as Chinese national Yixuan Cheng.
The sixth victim of Saturday’s Bondi Junction Westfield stabbing was named as Chinese national Yixuan Cheng. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

Radio host Kyle Sandilands revealed on air that one of Cauchi’s first victims, Yvonne Weinberg, was the aunt of his wife Tegan Kynaston.

“One of the first women to get stabbed in the shoulder was a family member of ours. She’s a very close family member to my wife,” he said.

“So, we were watching it on TV, and saw one of our families (sic) were involved and carted off to hospital.”

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said it was “obvious” from the footage that Cauchi had targeted women, but conceded a full explanation may never emerge.

Bondi Junction victim, 55-year-old Pikria Darchia.
Bondi Junction victim, 55-year-old Pikria Darchia. Credit: supplied/supplied

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

“We don’t know what was operating in the mind of the offender and that’s why it’s important now that detectives spend so much time interviewing those who know him, were around him, close to him.”

Five of the six who died were women as were nine of the 12 injured.

Cauchi ate lunch at Saigon Noodles on Oxford Street Mall before he began his murderous rampage on Saturday.

John Singleton's daughter Dawn, 25, was also murdered.
John Singleton's daughter Dawn, 25, was also murdered. Credit: Dawn Singleton/Facebook

On Monday, customers slurped pho inside the Vietnamese eatery. Further up Oxford St Mall, people drank coffee and gossiped at the Cosmopolitan Cafe, separated by a metal barrier from the growing mass of flowers.

The number of flowers has swelled over the past couple of days at the top of Oxford St Mall, just a few metres from the Westfield, which remains shut as detectives continue to investigate five levels of the centre.

Mental health workers wearing green vests stood to the side of the makeshift memorial.

Local Piper Hattersley said she had laid flowers on Sunday but had returned on Monday to see how many bouquets had been left since she last visited.

Ms Hattersley said she lived nearby and had noticed a difference in the atmosphere.

“Everything has changed,” she said.

“It’s kind of weird to be living right near it, it just feels like something’s not the same in the air.”

Cauchi, a drifter who had battled schizophrenia since he was a teenager, is believed to have moved from Queensland to NSW about a month ago.

His parents reached out to police after seeing footage of their son on television and have released a statement in support of Insp. Scott, the woman who shot him dead.

Ashlee Good handed her injured baby to strangers in a bid to save her infant’s life while she herself was dying from stab wounds.
Ashlee Good handed her injured baby to strangers in a bid to save her infant’s life while she herself was dying from stab wounds. Credit: Handout/Getty Images

Cauchi’s father, Andrew, said he still loved his son, but that he was “loving a monster”.

“To you, he’s a monster but to me, he was my son,” he said.

Mr Cauchi said his son had a long-held obsession with knives and had an issue with women because he wanted a girlfriend but had poor social skills.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was receiving regular briefings from the Australian Federal Police and security agencies following the massacre and had offered the Commonwealth’s full support to NSW Police.

“As we remember the victims of this terrible attack, we also pay tribute to the courage of those who prevented further harm,” he said.

“We can be so proud of their heroism and their compassion.”

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 28-05-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 28 May 202428 May 2024

Shattered daughter of gunman claims police ignored her firearm pleas