Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone has questioned whether mental health issues have again played a part in a shocking church stabbing overnight in Sydney’s west.

Speaking to news.com.au outside Christ The Good Shepherd Church on Tuesday morning following the stabbing of a bishop at Wakeley, Mr Carbone said he was “shocked” a 16-year-old had been arrested over the incident.

The stabbing comes just two days after the horrific murder of six people at Bondi Westfield Junction on Saturday afternoon.

Monday night’s incident at the Assyrian Christian church has been declared a “religiously motivated” terrorist act by authorities including NSW Police and ASIO, with a major investigation underway.

“I mean we have to ask ourselves the question, why would a teenager do this? Why would he walk in and do this,” Mr Carbone said.

“No one is immune, whether this happens in Bondi, whether this happens in Fairfield. There’s obviously a lot of mental health issues at play as well.

“I’ve got young kids as well and as parents, we’ve got to work hard to protect our kids to give them a better life, and to guide them through life.”

Mr Carbone also expressed his disappointment at those who attacked emergency services following the incident.

Police were forced to house the alleged offender in the church for hours as hundreds gathered in the street in anger, at one point chanting “bring him out”.

Riot squad officers were brought in after members of the community began smashing police cars and damaging nearby homes.

“Obviously, it was a lot of emotions last night, and we can’t condone the actions of those people who’ve done the wrong thing,” he said.

“They should not be taking the law into their own hands. We need our community now to stay calm.“

The 16-year-old remains in police custody. Charges are yet to be laid.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said at a press conference today the boy had previous interactions with police but was not known for organised crime or terror links.

“He had come under notice. Not well known to police. He was not known to us from a terrorism point of view,” she said.

“The issues are different. This is the first time this individual has come to our attention in this manner. As such, we’re treating it very seriously as you can imagine.”

The commissioner declared a “terrorist incident” after reviewing all evidence, including that the boy came armed with a knife and the alleged religious phrases he spoke at the scene.

Theories have emerged over whether the Bondi Junction attack could have inspired a “copycat” style incident last night.

Dr Tanveer Ahmed, a psychiatrist and author, said there was a phenomena of copycat crimes that had increased with the advent of social media.

“An American study looked at mass killings there and saw a 20, 30 per cent increase in the risk of another attack in the first two weeks and they described it as almost a virus, a vector,” he said on Sunrise.

“It affects some of the most vulnerable people, those with mental illness, intellectual delay.

“They’re most likely to almost imitate a most recent killing. We don’t know enough about this one but there is a correlation, isn’t there?”

Dr Ahmed said Australians should be reminded they lived in a peaceful country and that incidents like these were rare.

Counter terrorism expert Dr Josh Ruse told the ABC it was difficult to speculate on the caused of Monday’s attack but added it matched the profile of some recent events overseas.

“There was a plot for example to attack churches in the US over the last couple of weeks,” he said.

Dr Ruse said toxic discussions on platforms like X – formerly Twitter – over global conflicts such as the Israel-Palestine had stoked tensions within the Australian community.

That has created “a quite fertile environment for individuals in particular who are angry, who are looking to act out, to target, to be inspired and to go and target someone”, he said.

“The fact it was labelled so quickly is important,” Dr Ruse said.

“Because it then enables us to attempt to understand this through a particular lens. But really at the moment, it’s important that political leadership really comes to the fore.

“We’ve seen that this morning with a strong statement from the premier.

“But, it’s important that across the spectrum, including the media, that we understand this was a 15-year-old boy, potentially acting alone, and that we don’t raise that temperature until we know more.”

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