Neighbours of Mert Ney, who allegedly killed one woman and stabbed another in Sydney on Tuesday, have said he was a quiet and isolated person who was not outwardly religious.
On the quiet street in Marayong in western Sydney where Ney lived with his mother and sister, neighbours said they were surprised.
Shika Sharma, who lives next door, said she had been there for a year and had never properly spoken to the family.
“Just ‘hello’ or ‘hi’,” she told Guardian Australia. “We’re surprised. No fighting before, no yelling before. They were very quiet, the family members, very quiet at home.
“When we heard the news at first, we thought it was very strange. This neighbour?”
Ney’s mother and sister returned to the house on Wednesday morning, and told media they would provide comments later in the day.
Joel, who declined to give his last name, told Guardian Australia over the phone he lived next door on the other side, and had spoken to Ney only three days ago.
He said the 20-year-old had seemed isolated for years but he had seen no evidence of violence or religious extremism.
“We’ve lived there 10 years. We saw him grow up … He never went into the sun … They let their lawns overgrow. We’ve mowed their lawn before, neighbourhood stuff, we’ve brought their bins in. They had nothing to do with the community.
“[He was] quiet. Introverted. I said to him three days ago, your cat is jumping on the roof of my Range Rover, tell them to stop. He said, ‘Um, they’re my mum’s cats. They’re feral.’ That’s how he spoke. Then he just went back inside.”
But Joel said he was shocked to learn of Tuesday’s events. “He never showed any aggression,” he said.
Ney, 20, spent Tuesday night under police guard in hospital and was expected to be charged with murder and serious assault on Wednesday. Video footage of Tuesday’s rampage showed him holding a 30cm long knife, jumping on cars and yelling at bystanders to shoot him.
On Tuesday the New South Wales police commissioner, Mick Fuller, said Ney had no links to terrorist groups, had acted alone, and the incident was not being treated as a terrorist attack.
Joel said he had seen no evidence the family were religious.
Masumah Alizadah, who lives two doors down, said she felt scared.
“We never said hello. We never saw them. We thought Blacktown was safe, but now we’re too scared to live around here. From last night … we were shocked, we couldn’t believe it. Next door.”
On Tuesday police said they had found a USB drive on Ney’s person with information about mass murders committed in the US and New Zealand.