‘Highly Distressing’: Media Outlet Names Wrong Person as Bondi Knife Attacker

‘What’s even more disappointing to me is a major news network doing this using my name without waiting for a statement from the police to verify this.’
‘Highly Distressing’: Media Outlet Names Wrong Person as Bondi Knife Attacker
Police keep watch in front of the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall after a stabbing incident in Sydney on April 13, 2024. The number of people killed by a knife-wielding assailant in a Sydney shopping centre on April 13 has climbed to six, police said. (Photo by David GRAY / AFP) (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)
4/14/2024
Updated:
4/14/2024
0:00

An innocent university student, who was misidentified as the killer behind the brutal stabbing rampage at a Sydney shopping mall, has hit out at those who spread the misinformation, including the Seven Network.

From about 8:30 p.m. on April 13, Ben Cohen, a 20-year-old computing science student at the University of Technology Sydney, was wrongly named as the killer on social media, with his photo going viral online.

The Jewish student’s name was also trending on X, formally known as Twitter, hours after the attack with over 50,000 posts mentioning his name.

Channel Seven then picked up the false claims, describing him as “a 40-year-old lone-world attacker Benjamin Cohen.”

New South Wales (NSW) Police on April 14 has since identified Joel Cauchi from Queensland as the murderer of the attack.

Mr. Cohen described the incident as “highly distressing and disappointing.”

“It’s extremely disappointing to me to see people mindlessly propagating this information like this without even the slightest thought put into fact-checking,” the first-year student said in a post on TikTok.

“But what’s even more disappointing to me is a major news network doing this—using my name without waiting for a statement from the police to verify this or going out to try to verify it for themselves.

“This whole incident has been highly distressing and disappointing for myself and my family.”

A Channel Seven spokesperson said the mistake was “human error, and it has been rectified,” and that the network “sincerely apologises for the error.”

On Sunday morning, April 14, Mr. Cohen’s father, Mark Cohen, called on the NSW Police to reveal the name of the Bondi Junction knifeman “before this nonsense claiming it was my son causes more harm.”

The father said the rumours had reached Mr. Cohen’s extended family.

“Everyone’s asking what’s going on, people asking if it’s true. Of course it’s not true, he’s not even a politically motivated person. He’s just a normal kid who now has got to deal with this,” Mark said.

Meanwhile, David Ossip, president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, said the misidentification was an example of “dangerous ‘journalism.’”

“It is difficult to imagine more irresponsible or dangerous ‘journalism’ than incorrectly identifying an innocent young man as the perpetrator of a massacre.”

Victims’ Name Revealed

The horror unfolded at about 4 p.m. on April 13 when the Queensland man entered Bondi Junction Westfield, a major transport and shopping hub in Sydney’s affluent eastern suburbs, and began attacking people with a knife.

He was later shot dead by a female police officer.

There were five female victims and one male victim.

They have been identified as Ashlee Good, 38, a mother whose nine-month-old baby was also seriously injured; Dawn Singleton, 25, the daughter of businessman Jone Singleton; Jade Young, 47, a Sydney architect and mother of two; Pikria Darchia, 55, an artist; Faraz Tahir, 30, a security guard at Bondi Westfield and a refugee from Pakistan; and Yixuan Cheng, 27, a Chinese international student.

Nina Nguyen is a reporter based in Sydney. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural, and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Contact her at [email protected].
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