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Police Shoot Three Elderly Women After Confronting Knife-Wielding Man At Sydney Shopping Centre

Police say they were dealing with a 'life and death situation'.

Police have shot three women aged between 60 and 80 after officers were confronted by a knife-wielding man at a shopping centre in Sydney.

NSW Police say two officers opened fire on the man, armed with a large knife, at Westfield Hornsby in the city's north-west on Thursday morning.

The three bystanders and the man, who is understood to be 23 and was reported missing from a psychiatric centre on Wednesday, are being treated in different hospitals and are in a stable condition, police say.

Two officers fired their weapons, Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford told reporters on Thursday.

"The man is known to us and I understand he was reported missing from a psychiatric centre near here yesterday," he said.

He said earlier reports that people had been stabbed were incorrect. He said the incident happened in a matter of seconds.

"There are life and death situations where police have to make critical decisions," Clifford said.

"There's a range of tactical options available to police in any situation, you can't dictate exactly what option to use in every circumstance. In this one, the officers have made a decision, but we do know they were dealing with a person with a rather large knife who came at the officers and they have made that decision to use their weapons."

He said that bystanders were injured was alarming, "but I wonder what may have happened had the people not intervened and stopped this person with the knife".

Police earlier released a statement which read:

Critical Incident - Hornsby

Thursday, 09 June 2016 01:04:05 PM

A critical incident has been launched after a police shooting in Hornsby today.

About 11.50am (Thursday 9 June 2016) emergency services were called to a shopping centre in Hornsby following reports that a man was armed with a knife.

On arrival officers located the man and attempted to speak with him.

Following a confrontation, a number of shots were fired by police.

As a consequence four people have sustained various injuries and have been taken to hospital.

A Critical Incident Team will now investigate all circumstances surrounding the incident, including the discharge of a police firearm.

At this stage it is not known what has caused the confrontation.

That investigation will be subject to independent review.

No further details are available at this time however police are calling for witnesses to come forward.

Police are not looking for any other offenders.

Fairfax reports witnesses have claimed the man had been screaming and shouting at police before the officers shot him in the stomach.

Police have shot a man in #Hornsby mall. He lunged at them with a knife

— Kris Read (@DesignedToFade) June 9, 2016

Thursday's shooting comes just months after a fatal stabbing at a restaurant at the same shopping centre.

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