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Willetton stabbing: WA teen shot dead by police on Saturday made references to Gaza conflict in triple-0 call

Phil Hickey
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Classmates say a knife-wielding Perth teenager who attacked a stranger and police had watched frightening videos at school, but has also been described as kind and genuine.

A radicalised 16-year-old boy shot dead by police on Saturday night made references to Palestine and stated he was going to kill all men during a triple-0 call in the minutes before he died.

The phone call — made in the moments before he confronted three police officers with a large knife — has now been revealed as police consider whether or not to designate the incident as a terror attack.

It has previously been reported that the teenager, whom The Nightly is identifying as James, called police about 10.10pm on Saturday night and threatened acts of violence., but did not give his name or his location.

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But it is understood the boy made references to the Australian Government’s support for Israel in the Gaza conflict and also said words to the effect that he intended to kill all men in the location that he was in.

A 16-year-old boy unleashed an attack in a Bunnings carpark in Willetton on Saturday.
A 16-year-old boy unleashed an attack in a Bunnings carpark in Willetton on Saturday. Credit: Supplied
Police at the scene of a stabbing on Saturday night in Willetton.
Police at the scene of a stabbing on Saturday night in Willetton. Credit: 7NEWS/7NEWS

Minutes later, police received another call — believed to be from a member of the public — that there was a male chasing people in the area of High Road in Willetton with a knife.

Several minutes later, three police officers arrived on the scene where they discovered a man had been stabbed by the armed teen.

Police tasered James but when that failed to stop him, he was shot. He died a short time later.

When asked on Tuesday if the war in Gaza could have motivated the boy, Police Commissioner Col Blanch said that was still unknown.

“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.”

But he said he remained confident the boy acted alone.

“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,” Mr Blanch said, adding some of the boy’s phones and other electronic devices had been seized.

Mr Blanch said he had not yet officially designated what occurred on Saturday night a “terrorist incident” or “terrorist act” because emergency powers given to police under those circumstances were not required.

“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.

“But ... it meets the definition of a terrorist act.”

Col Blanch
When asked on Tuesday if the war in Gaza could have motivated the boy, Police Commissioner Col Blanch said that was still unknown. Credit: Aaron Bunch/AAP

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.

There was a steady police presence at James’ mother’s house on Tuesday morning.

The teen’s school — Rossmoyne Senior High School south of Perth — was plunged into chaos on Tuesday morning following the circulation of messages that appeared to show a student claiming he was planning to “shoot up at the school”.

The school community was sent into a frenzy by the disturbing messages posted on an internal forum for students and teachers on Monday night.

The messages were purported to come from a student, but principal Alan Brown said they were a hoax.

The correspondence spread among students and parents, prompting Mr Brown to send an email in which he said a “hacking incident” was to blame for the confronting claims.

“It has been confirmed that there has been a hacking incident and the messages have not originated from a student,” Mr Brown’s email said.

The Nightly understands multiple parents chose to keep their kids at home after seeing the messages.

Six police cars and multiple officers were seen outside the highly regarded public high school on Tuesday morning.

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