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Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Shooting rampage in shopping centre
Number of victims: 7
Date of murders: August 17, 1991
Date of birth: 1968
Victims profile: Roberta Armstrong; Robertson Kan Hock Joon; Patricia Rowe; Carole Dickson; Joyce Nixon; Rachell Milburn, and George Mavis
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife - Shooting (SKS carbine)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day

In 1991 taxi driver Wade Frankum killed 7 people when he sprayed his chinese assault rifle in a suburban shopping mall in Strathfield, Australia. Then he killed himself.


The Strathfield Massacre was a shooting rampage in Sydney, Australia on August 17, 1991. The shooter was Wade Frankum, who killed himself at the end of the massacre. Altogether, the shooting left 8 dead, including the gunman, and six more wounded.


In the apartment where Frankum lived alone, police found a large collection of violent literature and video copies of violent films. One of his books was a well-thumbed copy of American Psycho and although there is no direct evidence that the controversial novel had inspired Frankum, a number of suggestions that it had done so were made in newspapers. American Psycho has been condemned as misogynistic because it features many gruesome murders of women, and some thought it significant that five of the seven people Frankum killed were women. He is also said to have possessed a copy of the book The Female Eunuch by feminist author Germaine Greer, contradicting the American Psycho theory.


At around 1:00PM, 33 year old Frankum went to the Strathfield Plaza, a shopping mall .He sat in a cafe called The Coffee Pot, where he drank a number of cups of coffee.

At approximately 3.30pm, without provocation, Frankum pulled a large knife from an army surplus duffel bag and started stabbing two teenage girls who were sitting next to him, killing one and badly injuring the other.

Leaving the knife in the body of his first victims, he proceeded to pulling an assault rifle out of his duffel bag and shooting around the cafe, killing several more people. He then shot the cafe's owner dead and fled into the main area of the mall, where he killed his last victim.

Frankum ran into the car park and held a car owner at gunpoint and demanded them to take him to Enfield, a nearby suburb. Before the terrified woman could start her car, the police began to arrive on the scene. Hearing the approaching sirens, Frankum apologised to the woman and then got out of the car, knelt on the ground and shot himself in the head, commiting suicide.

Frankum's spree had lasted 10 minutes. He had killed seven people and injured six, none of them personally known to him.


  • Roberta Armstrong

  • Robertson Kan Hock Joon

  • Patricia Rowe

  • Carole Dickson

  • Joyce Nixon

  • Rachell Milburn

  • George Mavis


The massacre bought up the issue of gun control in Australia, as did the Port Arthur Massacre perpetrated by Martin Bryant five years later.

Bo Armstrong was a student studying at the Mcdonald College, just up from Strathfield Plaza, on Beresford Rd. She was a gifted ballerina and musician. Her mother has since given the school a scholarship, The Roberta Armstrong Award, which pays tuition for a whole year to one student gifted in ballet and music. Mrs Armstrong presents the award each speech night.


Australia gunman kills 7, self in crowded shopping center

San Jose Mercury News

August 17, 1991

A man armed with an automatic rifle and a machete went berserk in a crowded shopping plaza today, killing at least seven people and wounding several others before turning the gun on himself, police said.

The sniper fired the Soviet-designed AK-47 from the upper level of a parking garage at Stathfield Plaza, a shopping center filled with mid-afternoon shoppers, a police spokesman said.


Man kills 7, self in Australia

The Boston Globe

August 18, 1991

STRATHFIELD, Australia -- A man hacked a teen-age girl to death, then opened fire in a crowded shopping mall yesterday, killing six others before taking his own life as police closed in.

At least seven other people were wounded by automatic gunfire in the 10 minute rampage that brought carnage and confusion to the suburban Sydney shopping center.


Australian killings similar to movie 'Taxi driver'

The Phoenix Gazette

August 19, 1991

''Taxi Driver,'' the 1976 movie in which actor Robert De Niro played a psychopath who shaves his head and goes on a shooting rampage, will be examined by Australian police trying to find a motive for the shopping center slaughter of seven people.

Part-time taxi driver Wade John Frankum, 33, who killed seven people Saturday, shaved his head Thursday, neighbors have told police.


Wade Frankum

At 1pm on Saturday August 17, 1991 33 year-old Wade Frankum stands alone on the platform of North Strathfield Station. He is wearing jeans, a grey beanie covering his crewcut, and a denim jacket. In his hand is an army surplus dufflebag. Unbeknownst to the other commuters on the train platform, Frankum was on a mission. 

Casually, Frankum walked over to the ticket booth and bought a ticket to Strathfield. He nodded in reconicance to the man inside the ticket office. The two men knew each other, Frankum often chatted to the railworker. But today he just turned to the man and gave him a warning

"You'd better go home", said Frankum to the man sternly. FRankum then walked away again. He stood alone again as though he was waiting for someone. He watched train and after train go by before finally catching the 1.48 train to Strathfield. 

We should remember the comment made by Coroner Waller when conducting the inquiry into the Wade Frankum massacre at Strathfield, NSW: "Guns and porn make a lethal mix".

In 1991, the horror of mass murder struck an outer suburban Sydney shopping centre. On August 17, Wade Frankum, a 33-year-old taxi driver, set out for Strathfield Plaza with an imported 7.62mm SKS self-loading assault rifle in his bag and a machete concealed under his jacket. After downing four coffees in an hour at the Coffee Pot cafe, he stabbed a 15-year-old girl, leaving the machete in her body, then shot at diners around him before moving through the centre firing indiscriminately until the murder tally reached seven. "He was just calmly standing," said one witness. "Fired the first round, another two or three rounds, and then just turned around calmly and pointed the gun into the kitchen -- bang -- and then continued." Police found 50 cartridges after the assault. He flagged down a motorist in the the car park, then asked to be let out of the car. He uttered his last words -- "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" -- then shot himself, sobbing.

Frankum's father had died some years earlier and his mother had gassed herself 12 months before in the family car, which he continued to drive. Frankum's neighbours described him as "just a kind regular guy, friendly but quiet", a loner. "He would spend the whole day in the house and never go out apart from down to the local shop to buy milk and cigarettes, and then he would go out at night to drive his taxi," said one.

A particularly striking example of this in Australia was the mass murder perpetrated by Wade Frankum in Strathfield, Sydney, about nine years ago. Frankum stabbed a 15 year old girl, then shot seven people at random before killing himself. His final words were a line taken from a well-thumbed book police discovered on his bedside table, American Psycho, a novel describing, in nauseating detail, graphic horror.

There is strong evidence that the potent images in American Psycho were lodged in Wade Frankum's unbalanced mind -- where highly disturbed sexuality and murderous impulses dwelt -- in the days before he set out on his final journey. The copy of the book was, according to Milton, "well-thumbed." Even more revealingly, when Frankum arrived at Strathfield railway station on Aug. 17, he obliquely warned the stationmaster of the impending horror. "You had better go home, Clive," he said. These are almost the same words as those spoken by the hero of American Psycho to a woman he is about to murder.

Time - January 6, 1992

SIR: Wade Frankum reads American Psycho. Wade Frankum becomes a mass murderer. Kevin Waller (Herald, March 9) puts the case for the new censorship in no uncertain terms: "I find it impossible to justify their [the Strathfield massacre victims'] suffering in terms of an individual's right to read books and watch films and videos of gross cruelty." I share Mr Waller's concern, but did he notice the other book found in Wade Frankum's bedroom? Newspaper reports at the time stated that Frankum had also been reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Is it possible that this great work of literature could have helped Frankum along the path to murder?

SMH - March 11, 1992

Wade Frankum (Strathfield massacre) had been released from a mental institution, had been prescribed psychiatric drugs, notably Prozac (with known rage-state side affects) and was a user of prostitution businesses, (having spent in excess of $5,000 the week before the massacre) pornography and violent video consumer. We note that he knifed his first victim, a young girl, to death. It is also interesting that the Coroner said in his summing-up, that there was anecdotal evidence to suggest that Frankum's viewing of pornography was a contributing factor to the massacre.


Wade Frankum

When Wade Frankum walked into Strathfield shopping plaza in 1991 no-one had a clue what was about to happen. Particularly the two teenagers sitting in the next booth to him in the malls coffee shop.

They noticed the weirdo staring at them just a few moments too late, as they never had a chance to get out before he had lunged at them with his machete flying. It ripped through one of the girls, Roberta Armstrong, 15.

A moment later Frankum pulled out a SKS self loading assault rifle and began laughing. He was firing at anything, hitting a few, and then as suddenly as he'd started, he stopped. He turned and walked out of the coffee shop very calmly shooting a bystander on the escalator on his way to the buildings roof-top car park.

Once arriving at this destination Frankum put 5 bullets into a car and driver (Perhaps he didn't like cars either?). He then decided to take himself a hostage, Catherine Noyes. He pointed the gun at her head and ordered her to drive. BUT this little trip didn't last too long as the police were waiting for Frankum at the exit of the car park. Frankum had the car stopped where he jumped out, said "I'm really sorry", and blew his brains out the back of his head.

The Wacky World of Murder


Scribblings may be only clue to mall killings

The scribbled musings of mass murderer Wade John Frankum may prove the only clues in trying to fathom what sparked the shooting spree which left seven people dead in Sydney.

The 33-year-old part-time taxi driver hacked a young girl to death with a machete and shot dead six others with an automatic rifle at the Strathfield shopping mall on Saturday afternoon. He then shot himself.

Four days after the massacre, police admit they have gleaned little about his lifestyle or personality - other than that he was a loner with few friends. A forensic psychiatrist assigned to put together a profile of Frankum yesterday refused to reveal the contents of scribbled notes found in the killer's flat hours after the massacre. But the psychiatrist admitted that even the notes, written only to Frankum himself, clearly indicated what a guarded personality he was.

"People reveal bits of themselves in all sorts of ways ... by what they write and what they say and how they impress people," the psychiatrist, who asked not to be named, said last night. "The scribblings are quite useful. But this chap seems to have revealed so little of himself ... there was obviously a lot of unhappiness in his life."

To date, the only indicators that Frankum may have been anything other than the pleasant young man his neighbours say he was is the large cache of violent magazines and books - including a copy of the controversial serial killer novel American Psycho - found in his flat. Police also suspect Frankum's belated grief for his parents - both of whom have died in the past four years - may have been a factor in triggering the massacre.

"There isn't a lot of difference between killing himself and killing others," the psychiatrist said. "Suicide from grief is not uncommon."

One neighbour said Frankum had covered his bedroom with photos of his mother, who died last May after gassing herself in her car at the family unit in North Strathfield. Frankum's father had died of emphysema only three years before his mother's suicide. But, according to the friend, Frankum seemed to feel guilty that he had not seen his mother more often before she died.

"She was a lovely woman but she became a bit vague and very lonely after her husband died," the neighbour said. "Just before she killed herself, she wished she could see more of her children."

A nuggertty, short man, Frankum had a steady working history right up until about a year before his death when he gave up his job as a shop manager in Bondi and began working as casual taxi driver. With his mother's death, he moved into the North Strathfield unit which he shared with his younger sister Gaynor, aged in her early 20s. It was only then, say his neighbours, that they thought he began to let himself  go a little, usually wearing either a tracksuit or Army shirts and shorts, shaving his hair into a severe crew cut.

A neighbour, Margaret De Francesco, said Frankum seemed to be a lonely man, spending most of his day alone at home and venturing out only to buy milk or cigarettes from the local shop or to drive his cab. "He must have been very lonely."

Detective Superintendent Peter Wick said Frankum had no criminal record and it was uncertain if he had ever undergone psychiatric treatment.


Shopper 'froze' amid gunshots

On a mild winter's day in western Sydney, Diane Roberts was doing her regular Saturday shopping in the busy Strathfield Plaza.

For her, and hundreds of others, the ritual was shattered at 3.15 pm when a man armed with an automatic rifle and a machete went berserk. As gunfire crackled through the crowded two-story complex, many shoppers screamed and dived for cover in doorways, under plastic tables and chairs and behind waste bins. But Diane Roberts stood paralysed with fear: "It all happened too quickly, the whole thing was like something you see on television." she said later. "I couldn't go anywhere or duck for cover, I just froze." Bullets zipped only centimetres from her head.

As the gunman ran amok, Mr. Gregory Read, a Vietnam War veteran, instinctively ran through the centre yelling at shoppers to "hit the deck."

"The shots started coming towards me, I was in front of him by six metres. I could hear all the shots," Mr Read said from his hospital bed, where he is recovering from two gunshot wounds to his feet. "I could see he was running to get out of the building. I reached the carpark first and told a couple to hit the deck. I dived under the car and that's how I got shot in the feet. Looking over the barrel of his gun, I guess you could say I had eye contact with him."

Mr Read said he was not a hero, but had acted instinctively. "I just acted on the spur of the moment."

Sergeant Roger Wigley, who was first on the scene, said he found a 15-year-old girl lying face down in the coffee shop with the gunman's machete still in her back. "I have never seen anything like it in my life, in the 26 years I've been doing this job. It's unbelievable," Sergeant Wigley said at the scene. "There was blood and spent shells everywhere."

The massacre has sparked calls for tougher gun laws in Australia. It was the fifth major shooting tragedy in Australia in the past four years.


Wade Frankum



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