Westfield Bondi Junction remains closed after Saturday’s tragedy – updated

People laying flowers outside the mall on Sunday.
People laying flowers outside the mall on Sunday. (Source: Reuters / Alasdair Pal)
Police officers work at the scene outside Bondi Junction.
Police officers work at the scene outside Bondi Junction. (Source: Reuters / Kirsty Needham)

Westfield Bondi Junction remained closed on Monday as authorities investigating Saturday’s mass murder combed the mall for evidence. Well-wishers and grieving locals placed floral tributes to the victims outside its entrances on Sunday. 

In a statement issued Monday morning, Scentre said the mall would “open in due course” once on-site police enquiries are complete.

As mainstream media has reported, a 40-year-old Queensland man, described by police as having “mental health issues”, took a large knife into the centre shortly after 3pm and began – apparently randomly – stabbing shoppers, mostly women and including a nine-month-old baby who remains in a stable condition in hospital. Five people died at the centre and another in hospital on Saturday night. Concerns remain for the well-being of multiple injured victims in various conditions at six hospitals around the city.

The offender was shot by a lone policewoman, Inspector Amy Scott, who ran towards the offender as people were fleeing in the opposite direction. 

From a variety of footage shared on social media, mall management was quick to respond to the emergency. Alarms sounded, and digital advertising boards displayed messages urging people to evacuate the centre as the attacker progressed through the centre on multiple floors. 

From multiple mainstream media accounts, the staff of multiple retail stores also responded promptly. As confusion reigned with people screaming and running – and shortly after the sound of gunshots – store staff triggered shop doors to close and ushered shoppers into storerooms that could be locked inside, out of sight of the offender. At that stage of the event, no one could know whether there was one offender or multiple people attacking, or even the nature or motivation of the attack. Nor could they have been aware that the gunshots they heard had effectively ended the threat. 

The only male killed by the attacker was Faraz Tahir, a 30-year-old security guard on Westfield’s team at the mall who arrived in the country last year as a refugee from Pakistan, according to a statement from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Australia, to which he belonged.

Overnight and on Sunday, forensic teams worked inside the centre, described as “an active crime scene” by police. Some of the deceased remained on site. 

Scentre Group expresses condolences

Elliott Rusanow, CEO of Westfield Bondi Junction’s parent Scentre Group, issued a statement extending the company’s “deepest and most heartfelt condolences” to the families and loved ones of those impacted by the tragedy. He also expressed “deep appreciation for the swift and brave action” of Westfield Bondi Junction’s team and first responders.

“Our team continues to provide full assistance to the NSW emergency services response.”

Mall staff were also working with police on Sunday to help customers and workers who evacuated the centre to retrieve personal belongings and their vehicles. 

One of the confirmed dead was Dawn Singleton, an employee of the clothing boutique White Fox and the daughter of advertising industry businessman John Singleton. On Instagram, White Fox posted that it lost “not only an employee … but someone special to us who felt like a family member”.

“We are all truly devastated by this loss. Dawn was a sweet, kind-hearted person who had her whole life ahead of her. She was really amazing. We send our love & deepest condolences to her partner, the Singleton family & her friends. She will always be remembered as part of the White Fox family.”

No ideology behind the attack, police say

NSW police in a statement reiterated that the offender appeared to have had no links to any religious or political groups: “There is no ideology that would suggest this matter has a religious focus, has a political focus, or any ideology or religious motivation, to our understanding, that would contribute to an individual going into a crowded place and committing a crime of this nature.”

The National Retail Association said it was “devastated” by the events.

“We commend shop owners, retail workers and shoppers for their courage in protecting and aiding fellow shoppers during this terrorising incident. We also commend the police officer who responded to the incident, neutralising the perpetrator.”

SCCA ‘ready to help’ in any security review

A “shocked and saddened” Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA) said it was remaining in close contact with Scentre Group. 

Angus Nardi, CEO, said that after hearing comments from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese about a potential review of security arrangements at shopping centres and public places, the SCCA is ready to engage on any relevant public policy and security issues.

“Our industry has a longstanding community safety and security committee, which advises on key industry security issues, and we have engaged on key public policy issues, and with police and other agencies over a long period,” he said.

“Community safety and security is a priority for our industry, and we take very seriously that shopping centres are public places, are at the heart of our communities, and our visitors can include families and children.”

Nardi said SCCA members are committed and ready to work with governments and relevant stakeholders on any learnings to ensure our staff and visitors stay safe.

  • Inside Retail understands that some of the facts around this event – and some of the content shared on social media – may cause distress to some people. If you or someone you know needs help, there are services available to assist, including Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 551 800) and Beyond Blue (1300 224 636). 

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