A 16-year-old boy has been arrested after a man was fatally stabbed in the neck at a Church of Scientology complex in Sydney, Australia on Thursday. Another man was also injured in the incident.
Authorities on the scene said that the violent act happened following a “domestic incident” that took place Wednesday between the boy and his mother.
While specific details are scarce, the reported victim is a 24-year-old Taiwanese Scientology member. The injured man is also a member of the church.
Multiple reports from Australian news outlets say the boy “begged” his mother not to go through with a purification ceremony at the church — a process documented by Scientology as “Purification Rundown,” a “detoxification program” which supposedly “enables an individual to rid himself of the harmful effects of drugs, toxins and other chemicals.”
The boy was allegedly trying to force his way into the building Thursday when he was asked to leave the complex.
The BBC reports that the stabbings took place in a driveway of the facility when he was being escorted off of the property. The New South Wales police said the boy dropped a 25-cm-long knife after being confronted by officers armed with Tasers. The police took him into custody, where he still remains. He has yet to be charged with any crime.
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The Church of Scientology said it is helping police with their investigation into the matter.
“We cannot make any further comment beyond the fact that the victim was a beloved member of our Church,” said the church’s liaison office in Australia in a statement. “We are working closely with the police in relation to this matter and cannot release any further details. We will continue to fully cooperate with the police in relation to their investigation.”
Former Scientology member Paul Schofield told 9News that “Taiwanese members attract a significant amount of money to the religion,” and said Scientology will be in “total damage control.”
“It will be all about how they can spin this so that Scientology comes out, maybe not smelling like roses, but with the least amount of stink attached to it,” he concluded.
The Sydney complex is the largest Scientology facility outside of the United States, and the church says the site is a “virtual Garden of Eden.”