Australia’s Jewish community this week mourned the death of a ten-year old Jewish girl in Melbourne after she was one of five people killed on Friday by a man who stole a car, spun it round in wild circles then ploughed it into pedestrians.
Thalia Hakin’s mother and sister were also critically injured by Dmitri Gargasoulo, 26, with another 15 people receiving treatment, after the incident in the city’s central business district. Thalia’s father Tony spent the weekend at their bedside.
Describing it as “a tragedy beyond understanding,” Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Jennifer Huppert said the Jewish community was “aghast”.
She added: “Words cannot convey the sorrow we feel for all the victims and their families, and especially for the loss of Thalia and the devastation of her family.”
Thalia was a student in Melbourne’s Beth Rivkah Jewish day school, where Principal Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler told JTA: “Our hearts are broken. Thalia was a well-loved student and friend in the school community. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family at this most difficult time.” He described her as “happy and bubbly”.
She had attended an IDF Training Gym run as an after-school class by trainer Avi Yemini, who has set up an online fundraising site for the family. By Monday morning more than £40,000 had been pledged.
Gargasoulas was taken to hospital under police guard and on Monday he was released and taken in for questioning. He is expected to face multiple murder charges, but authorities say the incident was not terror-related.