Sydney rocked by second stabbing in days as bishop and worshippers targeted at church

New South Wales Police arrested 15 year-old boy after being called to the stabbing at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, west Sydney

Alex Ross
Monday 15 April 2024 18:04 BST
Flags across Australia at half-mast to mourn for victims over Sydney mall attack

Four people, including a bishop, have been stabbed during a church service in Sydney – the second major knife incident to hit the Australian city in a matter of days.

Police have arrested a 15-year-old boy and more than 100 officers were brought in to deal with the unrest after a large crowd gathered outside and demanded the suspected attacker be brought outside.

The incident happened at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley at around 7.15pm local time (9.15am GMT), and triggered clashes with angry residents, with rocks thrown towards officers.

The attack was broadcast live on Christ The Good Shepherd Church’s YouTube channel – this still was taken moments before the bishop was targeted (Christ The Good Shepherd Church/Youtube)

Footage of the service broadcast live on the church’s YouTube page appeared to show the bishop, Mar Mari Emmanuel, stabbed repeatedly by a man who approached the altar, before worshippers rushed to come to his aid.

“There was so much anger because the bishop is loved by them, he’s loved by myself as well, he preaches about the Lord and we love the Lord,” said a local resident who gave her name as Canny.

Three others were also hurt in the attack, according to the church in a Facebook post, including a priest called Father Isaac Royel. All four attacked suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to hospital.

It was the second mass stabbing in just three days in Sydney after six people were killed in a knife attack at Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre on Saturday. The attacker – 40-year-old Joel Cauchi – was later shot dead by a police officer.

A spokesperson for New South Wales Police confirmed the arrest of a teenager. They also said a public order incident outside saw one officer suffer a twisted knee and chipped tooth after being hit with a metal object. Another suffered a broken jaw after being hit with a brick and fence paling.

Footage circulating online showed angry scenes outside the church as members of the public clashed with police. Some officers were forced to fire pepper spray in an attempt to control the situation, according to Reuters.

Emergency services vehicles respond following the church stabbing (Reuters)

According to Sky News, one person watching wrote: “I was watching the live stream, a young male attacked him, potentially with a weapon was hard to tell but was fast and numerous blows.

“The church stepped in and then the live stream cut out and was removed.”

Emmanuel was ordained a priest in 2009 and then a bishop in 2011. The church said in a Facebook post: “We ask for your prayers at this time. It is the bishop’s and father’s wishes that you also pray for the perpetrator.”

Large numbers of police were called out to the scene (AP)

The Australian National Imams Council said the attacks were “horrifying and have no place in Australia, particularly at places of worship and toward religious leaders”.

The premier of New South Wales, Chris Minns, also described the scenes as “disturbing” on social media and urged the community to remain calm and “stick together”.

The attack was around 20 miles from the shopping centre where lone knifeman Cauchi went on a stabbing spree on Saturday. Using a large knife, he killed six people – five women and a man – and injured 12 others, including a nine-month-old baby.

The church, pictured here, is around 20 miles from the stabbing at Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre (Google street map)

He was eventually shot and killed by inspector Amy Scott, who confronted him alone on the fifth floor after a pursuit through the mall.

On Monday, as the country took part in a day of mourning for the victims, the killer’s parents said they were “extremely sorry”.

His father Andrew Cauchi said: “He’s my son. And I’m loving a monster – to you, he’s a monster. To me, he was a very sick boy.”

On Monday, it also emerged that Cauchi, who had a history of mental health problems and led an itinerant lifestyle, led a secret life as a male escort.

His father also told reporters on Monday that he had confiscated five US army knives from his son last year.

Pikria Darchia, 55, Dawn Singleton, 25, Yixuan Cheng, 27, from China, Jade Young, 47, Faraz Tahir, 30, and Ashlee Good, 38, were killed in the attack at Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre (AP)

The fresh details emerged as New South Wales police commissioner Karen Webb said the focus on female victims during the rampage is a “line of inquiry”.

Yixuan Cheng, 27, from China, Jade Young, 47, Dawn Singleton, 25, Pikria Darchia, 55, and Ashlee Good, 38, all women, were victims of Cauchi’s attack.

The only man killed during the attack was a 30-year-old security guard, Faraz Tahir.

Thousands of flowers and wreaths lay in a makeshift memorial outside the mall on Monday as hundreds came from across the city to honour those killed.

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