Willetton knife attack: Col Blanch says what teen did on Saturday night met the definition of a terrorist act

Phil Hickey
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Police at the scene of the stabbing on Saturday night.
Police at the scene of the stabbing on Saturday night. Credit: Simon Hydzik/7NEWS

Police have seized phones and other electronic devices from the family home of a radicalised 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police at the weekend, as officers continue to investigate the motivations behind his actions.

WA’s top cop Col Blanch revealed the new information on Tuesday, as he said what the teenager did on Saturday night “met the definition of a terrorist act”.

As the country reels from another knife attack, police are continuing their investigations into why the teenager, two years into a national “de-radicalisation” program decided to charge police in the car park of Bunnings in Willetton on Saturday night.

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Police tasered him — shortly after he stabbed an innocent bystander — but when that failed, he was shot.

He died in hospital a short time later.

On Tuesday, Mr Blanch said his officers were still investigating why the teenager did what he did on Saturday evening.

As part of that investigation police had seized several items from the teenager’s family home, Mr Blanch confirmed.

“At this stage phone devices and any electronic devices are our primary source of evidence,” he said.

“And obviously witnesses and family members, taking statements from them is mainly the key evidence.”

Mr Blanch said he had not yet officially declared what occurred on Saturday night a terrorist incident or a terrorist act because doing so would give police additional emergency management powers — which were not required at this stage.

“You can say it is a terrorist act, I am saying I don’t need to declare an incident because I don’t need additional powers,” he said.

“If that changes and more information does come to hand, I may need to declare it a terrorist incident, or a terrorist act to use those powers but at this time I don’t need to do that.

“But from a prima facie perspective, it meets the definition of a terrorist act.”

Mr Blanch said the boy’s family were “extremely emotional” and dealing with a lot of grief.

“It is a long road ahead for them,” he said.

When asked if the ongoing conflict in Gaza may have sparked or motivated the boy into carrying out the knife attack and confronting police, Mr Blanch said it was still unknown what triggered the boy.

“I think that is the subject of the investigation at the moment, is what caused him to take those actions on the night,” Mr Blanch said.

“Something happened on that night that we have to determine what that was and we don’t know.”

Mr Blanch said he remained confident the boy acted alone on Saturday night.

“We have no intelligence that says anyone is connected to him in relation to those actions …I am confident at this time where we are in the investigation that he was acting alone,” he said.

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