Australia’s leader says French worker who intervened in stabbing attack can stay as long as he likes

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s prime minister said Tuesday a French construction worker who confronted a man who stabbed six people to death in a Sydney shopping mall is welcome to stay in the country as long as he likes.

Damien Guerot was nicknamed “Bollard Man” on social media after security camera footage showed him standing at the top of an escalator on Saturday and menacing Joel Cauchi with a plastic bollard — or barrier post — as he approached. Cauchi fled down the escalator and people on Guerot’s floor were safe.

Guerot’s temporary Australian work visa was due to expire in July until Prime Minister Anthony Albanese intervened.

“I say this to Damien Guerot, who is dealing with his visa applications, that you are welcome here, you are welcome to stay for as long as you like,” Albanese told reporters.

“This is someone who we would welcome becoming an Australian citizen, although that would of course be a loss for France,” the prime minister added.

Guerot’s lawyer Belinda Robinson told SBS News the government had provided an assurance late Tuesday that he would be given an Australian permanent resident visa.

Guerot was one of a number of people praised for intervening in the attack. Officials have said the toll could have been much higher. Police said the attacker targeted women; five were among those killed.

Cauchi also injured at least a dozen others, including a 9-month-old baby whose mother was killed, before a police officer shot him dead.

Guerot also has been assured that Australia’s welcome map won’t be withdrawn if Albanese’s government loses elections due next year. The opposition party also wants him to stay in Australia.

“I support the prime minister’s generous offer” of citizenship, opposition leader Peter Dutton told reporters. “We would want people of that character in our country.”

Guerot said he and his friend Silas Despreaux were walking toward a gym in the mall when they came upon Cauchi’s rampage.

“I don’t know, we just (thought) we needed (to do) something to catch him,” Guerot told Seven Network on Sunday.

Security camera footage shows Guerot throwing the bollard at Cauchi but missing and later brandishing a plastic chair while giving chase.

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