Six people, including two police officers, have been killed in a gunfight at a remote home in Australia’s Queensland state.
Constables Matthew Arnold, 26 and Rachel McCrow, 29, had called at the property to investigate reports involving a missing person.
But when they approached the entrance, they came under fire from two heavily armed offenders, who were reportedly dressed in camouflage fatigues.
Back-up and air support responded to the ambush, and following a six-hour stand-off, the two suspects, and one other person, were eventually shot dead.
A member of the public – a neighbour who tried to come to the officers’ help – was also killed in the initial attack, and two other police officers were taken to hospital.
According to The Australian newspaper, one suffered a bullet graze to the leg and was able to escape the property to raise the alarm, while the fourth fled into bushes to hide from the gunmen.
The newspaper reported a police source as saying that after the two officers were critically injured, one or both of the gunmen then stood over the pair and shot them “execution style where they lay”.
They said: “A witness reported seeing two people in camouflage stand over them and shoot them again. Then they took their pistols.”
Queensland police has not formally revealed the identities of the offenders, but local media said they were former school principal 46-year-old Nathaniel Train, his brother Gareth Train and an unidentified woman.
‘Lives cruelly cut short’
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the incident as “terrible and a heartbreaking day for the families and friends of the Queensland Police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty”.
He said: “I pay tribute to them. I pay tribute as well to their surviving fellow officers… In addition, I pay tribute to a neighbour driven by the instinct to help, Alan Dare, who also lost his life in this tragedy.
“Three lives cruelly cut short. This is, indeed, a devastating day for everyone who loved these Australians.”
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the shooting, in Wieambilla, about 300 km (186 miles) northwest of Queensland’s capital Brisbane, was the largest loss of life the state police have suffered in one incident in recent times.
She vowed the circumstances surrounding the deaths would be investigated.