French hero gains Australian residency for confronting killer in Sydney mall attack

French construction worker Damien Guerot was made an Australian permanent resident on Thursday as a reward for his heroism during a knife attack in a Sydney shopping mall that left six victims dead and a dozen wounded.

Guerot was nicknamed “Bollard Man” on social media after security camera footage showed the 31-year-old standing at the top of an escalator at the Westfield Bondi Junction mall on Saturday warding off knife-wielding Joel Cauchi with a plastic barrier post. 

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, but Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has now extended him an invitation to settle in Australia.

Guerot told Nine Network Television he was happy about the opportunity to stay in Australia but felt mixed emotions.

”It’s just unbelievable,” he said. ”How can I be also happy when … many people and families … are very sad for their loss?”

Guerot was also filmed brandishing a plastic chair as he ran toward Cauchi behind Police Inspector Amy Scott. Guerot and with fellow French national and work colleague Silas Despreaux were with Scott when she ended Cauchi’s rampage with a fatal shot.

French President Emmanuel Macron praised the pair’s heroism.

“Two of our compatriots behaved like true heroes,” Macron posted in French on social media. “Very great pride and recognition.”

Albanese told Guerot via a press conference on Monday that “you are welcome to stay for as long as you like”..

Guerot is someone Australia would welcome as a citizen, Albanese said, “although that would be a loss for France”.

Albanese has also endorsed the possibility of granting citizenship to Pakistani security guard Muhammad Taha, who was stabbed in the stomach when he confronted Cauchi. Taha holds a temporary visa that is due to expire within weeks.

“Yes, we certainly will,” Albanese told Radio FiveAA when asked if he would consider citizenship for Taha. “Muhammad Taha, he confronted this guy, the perpetrator, Joel Cauchi, on Saturday. And it just shows extraordinary courage,” Albanese said. “That’s the sort of courage that we want to say thank you to, frankly.”

Taha said from his hospital bed that he believed he deserved “recognition and consideration for citizenship”. He highlighted the work of other guards as well, saying that they should be offered citizenship too.

The only male killed in Saturday’s attack was a mall security guard, Pakistani refugee Faraz Tahir.

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