Australian Police Investigating Motive Behind Man Targeting Women in Stabbing Attack

Australian police are examining why a lone assailant who stabbed six people to death in a busy Sydney shopping mall and injured more than a dozen others targeted women while avoiding men, a police commissioner said on Monday.

Police shot and killed the homeless assailant, Joel Cauchi, during his knife attack in the Westfield Bondi Junction mall on Saturday near world-famous Bondi Beach.

Police have ruled out terrorism and said the 40-year-old had a history of mental illness.

New South Wales state Police Commissioner Karen Webb said detectives would question Cauchi’s family in an attempt to determine his motive. CCTV footage from the mall showed Cauchi targeted women.

“The videos speak for themselves, don’t they? And that’s certainly a line of inquiry for us,” Webb told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“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,” Webb added.

The only male killed was Faraz Tahir, a Pakistani refugee who worked at the mall as a security guard. Tahir had not been armed.

Most of the 12 victims who survived their wounds were also women, Webb said.

The evidence will be provided to a coroner to report on the circumstances of the deaths.

Webb expected the coroner would also address the question of whether security guards at the mall, which is one of Australia’s largest, should be armed.

The families of two victims based overseas had been advised of their deaths, police said. Those victims are Tahir, 30, from Pakistan, and Yixuan Cheng, 27, from China. Also killed were Jade Young, 47; Dawn Singleton, 25; Pikria Darchia, 55; and Ashlee Good, 38.

Eight victims who survived their injuries remained in hospitals on Monday, including Good’s 9-month-old daughter. The baby’s condition improved overnight Sunday from critical to serious, health authorities said.

The conditions of the other seven ranged from critical to stable.

Flags on government buildings around Australia flew at half-staff on Monday as a day of national mourning was declared to honor the victims. A black ribbon will appear on the sails of the Sydney Opera House on Monday night has part of a light display.

Police had given control of the seven-story crime scene back to the mall operators on Sunday night, but a decision has yet to be announced on when it will reopen for business.

The police officer who has been credited with saving many lives by shooting Cauchi dead, Insp. Amy Scott, will be interviewed by detectives on Tuesday.