Six people, including two policemen, were killed on Monday night in an hour-long standoff in a remote part of Australia.
Four officers from Tara Police Station had arrived at a property in rural Wieambilla, Queensland at around 4.45pm to investigate a missing person report, Queensland Police confirmed on Tuesday.
Officers Matthew Arnold, 26, and Rachel McCrow, 29, were killed as they approached the address, authorities said. A third officer was injured.
The shooting gave way to a six-hour siege, during which the suspects killed neighbor Alan Sure, 58, who came to investigate the commotion, officials said.
The standoff ended when tactical police shot and killed all three suspects, one of whom was identified as Nathaniel Train, 46, the missing person police were sent to look up.
A former principal of the school, Train was last seen in New South Wales in December 2021, but has only been in contact with his family since last October.
He was killed along with his brother Gareth Train, 47, and sister-in-law Stacey Train, 45.
The incident is the Queensland Force’s largest loss of life in several years.
“Those officers didn’t stand a chance. The fact that two made it out alive is a miracle,” Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Queensland Police Union chairman Ian Leavers described to the ABC how uninjured officer, rookie officer Keely Brough, bravely stood her ground when suspects tried to lure her away by lighting a fire.
“She didn’t know if she was going to be shot or [if] she was about to burn alive,” she said. “She was texting loved ones saying she was at a point where she thought it was her time.”
A candlelight vigil has been scheduled in Brisbane for both Constable Arnold and McCrow.
“Know it [McCrow and Arnold] no longer with us in what was a ruthless, calculated and focused execution of our colleagues and loved ones brings home the very real risks we face every single day doing our job,” lamented Leavers.
“Just such a tragedy. This should never happen. It was completely unexpected.”
Detectives are now investigating Gareth Train, who often contributed paranoid posts to conspiracy blogs. According to the Guardian, he expressed distrust of the police and believed the 1996 Port Arthur massacre – the mass shooting that led to Australia’s strict gun laws – was a “false flag operation” or covert event. by one group to shift the blame to another.
He co-owned the Wieambilla property with his wife. In a 2021 post, he claimed to “’build an ark'[,] farm for the past five years preparing to survive tomorrow.’”
Nathaniel Train has reportedly gone off the map after his mental health deteriorates following a heart attack.
“[We’re] definitely investigating every avenue, regardless of whether it is [was] premeditated, some of the things that have been online by these people,” Commissioner Carroll told ABC. “We will be investigating what they have done, not just in the last few weeks but in the last few years.”
While the investigation is ongoing, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese shared his condolences on social media.
“Terrible scenes at Wieambilla and a heartbreaking day for the families and friends of Queensland Police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty”, he wrote. “My condolences to all who mourn tonight: Australia mourns with you.”
Opposition leader Peter Dutton, a former Queensland police officer, also shared his sympathy on Twitter.
“Deeply distressing news coming out of West Queensland tonight with those police officers who have been murdered,” his post read. “Police officers face danger every day to keep us away.”