After repelling the assailant who fatally stabbed six people in a Sydney shopping center on Saturday April 13, the courage of a Frenchman, Damien Guerot, was unanimously praised in Australia. The Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, even offered to offer him Australian citizenship, thanking him for his “extraordinary bravery”.

“I tell Damien Guerot, who takes care of his visa applications, that he is welcome here and that he can stay as long as he wants,” Mr. Albanese said. The Australian leader praised the Frenchman who confronted Joel Cauchi, a 40-year-old mentally ill man, on an escalator using a pole to prevent him from causing further victims. “He is someone we would happily welcome as an Australian citizen, although it would, of course, be a loss for France,” he added.

Damien Guerot, 31, was nicknamed “the man on the pole” and described as a “hero” for intervening in Saturday’s stabbing at the busy Sydney shopping centre. He was there with a French friend, Silas Despeaux, who also lives in Australia. “It says a lot about human nature, when we face difficult issues, that a person who is not a citizen of this country stood courageously at the top of that escalator and stopped this attacker from gaining a another floor and potentially commit further carnage,” Albanese said.

After presenting his “condolences” to the Australians, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, expressed his “very great pride” and his “gratitude” to the French who “behaved like true heroes”, in a message published on X Tuesday morning. “We will soon have the opportunity to express our collective gratitude to them,” said the French ambassador to Australia, Pierre-André Imbert.

An act “linked to the mental health” of the attacker

Mr Cauchi’s stabbing attack, which left five women and a Pakistani security guard dead, took place at the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping center in the iconic Bondi district, not far from the beach of the same name, late Saturday afternoon. After a half-hour outburst of violence, the attacker was pursued and shot dead by a police officer, Amy Scott, also hailed for her heroism.

Police said Joel Cauchi had traveled to Sydney about a month ago and rented a small storage space which contained some personal belongings, including a surfboard. Homeless, he lived in a vehicle and in youth hostels, and had only sporadic contact with his family. NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Anthony Cooke said on Sunday that it “is very clear at this stage that [this act] is related to the mental health of the individual involved.” “So far, we have not received any information, recovered any evidence, or obtained any intelligence” suggesting that the attack was motivated by “a particular ideology,” he said.

“I did everything in my power to help my son,” Joel Cauchi’s father, Andrew, told local media, adding: “I’m sorry. There is nothing I can do or say to bring the dead back to life. Joel Cauchi’s parents also sent a message to the police officer, saying that “she was only doing her job to protect others” and hoping “that she does well.”