Sydney attacker was a teacher turned male escort

The man who murdered six people in a busy shopping centre was a teacher turned male escort who was known to authorities because of previous concerning behaviour including an unusual interest in knives.

‌The attacker has been identified as Joel Cauchi, a 40-year-old who was sleeping rough after moving from Queensland to Sydney where he was shot dead on Saturday.

‌In a statement released on Sunday, his parents Andrew and Michele, described their son’s actions as “truly horrific”.

‌“We are absolutely devastated by the traumatic events that occurred in Sydney yesterday,” they said.‌

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims and those still undergoing treatment at this time.

‌“We are in contact with both the NSW Police Force and Queensland Police Service and have no issues with the police officer who shot our son as she was only doing her job to protect others and we hope she is coping alright.”‌

Ashlee Good

Ashlee Good handed her baby to bystanders after she was stabbed – Good family handout

Inspector Amy Scott shot Cauchi after he lunged at her with the knife he had already used to wound 17 people inside Westfield in Bondi Junction – among them, a baby girl who was being pushed by her mother, Dr Ashlee Good.

‌Dr Good, an osteopath who was remembered by family as an “all round outstanding human” died in hospital on Saturday night. Her daughter remained in hospital on Sunday after undergoing surgery.

‌Five other victims – four women and a male security guard – were killed inside the shopping centre.

‌They include architect Jade Young, 47, and Dawn Singleton, 25, who worked as an e-commerce assistant, and the daughter of millionaire businessman John Singleton.

Faraz Tahir, 30, from Pakistan, was on his first shift at Westfield when he was fatally stabbed.

‌Cauchi’s family contacted police after seeing news footage of the attacker, who police said would only occasionally “text his mother with an update as to where he was”.

Dawn Singleton

Dawn Singleton was shopping for makeup for her wedding – UNPIXS

‌As Australians reeled from the deaths, questions turned to the man’s motivations and past interactions with authorities and psychiatrists.‌

Anthony Cooke, the assistant commissioner of New South Wales Police, said: “There is still to this point nothing – no information we have received, no evidence we’ve recovered, no intelligence that we have gathered – that would suggest that this was driven by any particular motivation, ideology or otherwise.”

‌Cauchi did not have a criminal record. But he was known to police and government health agencies because of periods of alarming behaviour since being diagnosed as schizophrenic at age 17.

‌Queensland police assistant commissioner, Roger Lowe, said officers in that state last recorded interacting with Cauchi during a street check in the Gold Coast in December.

‌In a separate incident, officers were called to his house in 2023 after he had a dispute with his family. Cauchi had been in possession of knives and made allegations his family were abusing him by trying to take them away, the Courier Mail newspaper reported.‌

Joel Cauchi

Joel Cauchi had expressed interest in surfing, astronomy, art – and weapons

A man who owns a knife-sharpening business said about three years ago Cauchi had asked the business to sharpen his two “everyday knives”.

‌“Which I thought was weird,” the owner told the Guardian. “He wasn’t a chef or a butcher.”

‌Cauchi tried to organise meet-ups with people who like to “shoot guns”, social media posts show. Unemployed and drifting between hostels, Cauchi had turned to online sex websites to advertise his services as a male escort.

‌But none of his recent online activities raised alarm bells with authorities. In a backpacker group, he asked fellow travellers to join him in a road trip to explore New South Wales.

‌In April he put out a call to go surfing at the world-famous Bondi Beach.

‌It was in Bondi on Saturday that Cauchi stopped to eat his last meal at a Vietnamese restaurant, at 10am.

‌But he seemed “confused”, staff reported, and didn’t have money to pay. He came back at midday to purchase a red curry with rice.

By 3.30pm he had pulled a knife from his backpack, and committed one of the most devastating crimes in recent Australian history.

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