Crowds turn on police after bishop allegedly stabbed at Sydney church (2024)

Authorities are investigating the stabbing of a bishop during a church service in Sydney's south-west last night as a "terrorist act".

A 16-year-old was arrested at the scene over the stabbing of three people atthe Assyrian Orthodox Church, Christ The Good Shepherd Church, in Wakeley on Monday night before a large crowd gathered around the church.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel sustained lacerations to his head after being lunged at during a mass service that was being broadcast online.

A 39-year-old man also sustained cuts and a shoulder wound while attempting to intervene, NSW Police said.

Assistant Commissioner Andrew Holland said a 16-year-old was detained and held down by members of the church.

The teenager sustained injuries to his hand and was "removed from the church and taken to an undisclosed location", according to NSW Police.


He remains under police guard in hospital after undergoing surgery for his injuries.

Those stabbed suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were treated by paramedics before being taken to hospital, NSW Police said.

A spokesperson for NSW Health said the bishop was being treated at Liverpool Hospital in a critical but stable condition.

The hospital went into partial lockdown but people needing immediate care were able to access services.

Crowds turn on police after bishop allegedly stabbed at Sydney church (1)

Police commissioner declared 'terrorist incident'

NSW Premier Chris Minns confirmed the attack was being investigated as an act of terrorism.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb declared it was a "terrorist incident".

"Strike Force Petrina has been established to investigate that side of the events last night and a referral has been made and agreed to by the joint counter-terrorism investigation team," she said.

Commissioner Webb said the teenage alleged offender is known to police "but he has not been on any terror watch list" andit was believed he was acting alone.

The bishop who was attacked is in surgery and "lucky to be alive",Commissioner Webb said.

The offender has also been in surgery after his fingers were injured, but police said it is unclear if the injuries were sustained with his own weapon or in the melee afterward.

Police have been in contact with the boy's parents andCommissioner Webb said investigators will be looking at his movements in the lead up to the attack.

Police investigating stabbing, crowd violence

Assistant Commissioner Holland said an "emotional response" built outside the church and upto 100 police officers were then called to the scene.

Two strike forces have been established to investigate the stabbing and the crowd violence afterward as separate incidents.

"The crowd surge, we understand from 50 to maybe 500, it was very uncontrolled for a large period of time, in fact a couple of hours," Commissioner Webb said.

"Resources from all across Sydney were brought in to assist police on the ground who were calling for help, that's how dynamic it was, that's how confronting it was, and that's how precarious it was."

Officers will be pursuing people in the crowd as part of their investigation.

"They can expect a knock on the door. Police officers were doing their job and they were attacked, that's as simple as I can put it," Commissioner Webb said.

"We will be pursuing all those individuals."

Mr Minns also urged the public not to spread misinformation, especially on social media.

"Rumours can spread in the community and start disharmony or a breach to the public order very quickly, so wait for official information from NSW Police," he said.

Police were deployed to other religious sites around Sydney in case of reprisal attacks.

Police officers injured while responding


The public were advised to avoid the area during the large-scale police response which started just after 7pm.

Vision from outside the church shows chaotic scenes with a large crowd of people.

"A constable was hit with a metal object and sustained a twisted knee and a chipped tooth," NSW Police said.

"Another constable sustained a broken jaw after he was hit with a brick and a fence paling.

"They were both taken to hospital for treatment."

Crowds turn on police after bishop allegedly stabbed at Sydney church (2)

Assistant Commissioner Holland said it was disappointing to see some in the community damage houses "to gain weapons to throw at the police … and the church".

He said the target was the teenager.

"One of the things they need to understand, is they need police to do their jobs, let us do the investigation," he said.

Crowds turn on police after bishop allegedly stabbed at Sydney church (3)

NSW Premier Chris Minns said he has been briefed by the Police Commissioner and NSW Health about the situation.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and first responders who are working to keep us safe," he said.

"It's important that the community remain calm and continue to listen and act to the directions of police and emergency services.

"We are a strong community in NSW and it's important that we all stick together, particularly in the face of adversity."

Late on Monday night, Mr Minns convened a meeting of government officials and leaders representing religious communities in Western Sydney.

Mr Minns said the group of 11 "endorsed and supported a unanimous condemnation of violence in any form".

"We're calling on everyone to act with kindness and respect for each other," he said in a statement.

The incident comes two days after a man killed six people in a stabbing attack at Westfield Bondi Junction on Saturday afternoon.

Just before 1am on Tuesday, police said the operation had ended but two officers had been injured, and police cars damaged.

Religious leaders express shock

The Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) and the Australian Muslim community have unequivocally condemned the attack on Bishop Emmanuel.

"These attacks are horrifying and have no place in Australia, particularly at places of worship and toward religious leaders," they said in a statement.

Faith NSW CEO Murray Norman described the stabbing of Bishop Emmanuel as "horrific" and deeply shocking.

"Tonight, Bishop Emmanuel was stabbed, it's a hideous thing, I can't believe this can happen in Australia during a mass, it's just horrible," he told the ABC.

"I haven't heard about his condition, but the faith communities are desperately grieving and praying for the bishop, it's just horrible that this could happen after everything that's happened this week."

Crowds turn on police after bishop allegedly stabbed at Sydney church (4)

Jewish community leader Alex Ryvchin, from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry posted on X (formerly Twitter) that he was "horrified by the stabbing attack".

"I stand in complete solidarity with the beautiful Assyrian community and pray that the injured recover fully in body and soul," he said.

IH Kauser, the national president and Grand Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia, expressed "profound sadness and shock".

"The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia unequivocally condemns tonight's attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel in the strongest possible terms.

"We extend our deepest sympathy to all those injured in the attack and wish them a speedy and complete recovery."

Police are urging eyewitnesses or anyone with information, or mobile phone vision to contactCrime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Crowds turn on police after bishop allegedly stabbed at Sydney church (2024)
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