By ABC reporters
The names of two brothers and two police officers shot during a siege at a remote rural property in Queensland overnight have been released.
Queensland police said Constable Rachel McCrow, 29, and Constable Matthew Arnold, 26 were among officers at the property in Wieambilla, west of Brisbane, as part of a missing persons report when they were ambushed by three shooters – two brothers and a woman – wearing camouflage.
A man from a neighbouring property, identified as Alan Dare, was also killed in the siege.
Speaking from Chinchilla police station, Commissioner Katarina Carroll said she went to the scene this morning and had received a further briefing on what happened.
“Despite police efforts, the matter was unable to be resolved peacefully and all three offenders were fatally shot by specialist officers,” Commissioner Carroll said.
“In total, six people have lost their lives. …This event is the largest loss of police life we have suffered in a single incident in many years.”
Brothers Nathaniel and Gareth Train identified as gunmen in Queensland siege
Police said brothers Nathaniel Train and Gareth (Gavin) Train, along with a woman, were the offenders.
Four Queensland police officers went to the property as part of a search for Nathaniel Train who was the subject of a missing persons report.
The Wains Road property where the shooting happened was listed as being owned by Gareth and Stacey Train.
Nathaniel Train was reported to have been seen in Dubbo in December last year but had been in contact with his family as recently as October 2022.
Queensland is wrapping its arms around the families of the officers and bystander killed in the Western Downs. pic.twitter.com/fYSAIw9OGE
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) December 13, 2022
The 46-year-old was the former principal at Walgett Community College Primary School, which is about 700km north-west of Sydney.
He was the executive principal for 18 months up until August 2021 when he said he had a heart attack at his desk. He then left the school.
He had previously taught at another school in regional NSW, but while at Walgett had concerns about the education policy at the school.
He raised those concerns with member for One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham.
The upper house MP told NSW parliament earlier this year that Train sent 16 emails over the course of two weeks to the NSW Department of Education, outlining problems and challenges at his school and requesting assistance.
Latham said Train first reached out to him over 12 months ago.
He said they never met, only spoke on the phone three or four times.
He said he emailed Train on 6 July this year and received no response.
‘A mild-mannered school leader’
It comes as the NSW Department of Education confirmed the former principal had died in the overnight shooting.
Nathaniel Train was employed from August last year before leaving in March this year, a spokesperson for the department said.
“One of the deceased was a former NSW Education employee who had not been working at a NSW school since August 2021,” the department said in a statement.
“He officially left our employment in March this year.
“Extra counselling will be provided at the impacted school today and for as long as staff and students require support.”
Nathaniel Train was also principal at the Yorkeys Knob State School in Far North Queensland in 2017.
He was described in a local media story as a “mild-mannered school leader” who decorated his beard with glitter and Christmas baubles to help raise money for the school P&C.
A woman was also shot and killed by officers at the scene. Her identity had not yet been confirmed.
Heavy police toll – Commissioner
Becoming emotional, Commissioner Carroll said it was an “extremely challenging time for the Queensland Police Service.”
This evening two of our officers lost their lives in the line of duty while protecting their community.
Our thoughts are with their families, friends and colleagues at this devastating time.
With Honour They Served.
— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) December 12, 2022
“To lose two officers in one incident is absolutely devastating,” she said through tears.
“Losing one of our own has a profound impact on every single officer and their families. This event is the largest loss of police life we have suffered in a single incident in many years.”
Carroll said Constable McCrow and Constable Arnold had “only recently commenced their policing careers”.
“Matthew and Rachel were highly respected and much-loved members of the Queensland Police Service,” she said.
“Matthew was sworn in as a police officer in March 2020, while Rachel was sworn in last year in June 2021.
“They were both committed and courageous young people who had a passion for policing and for serving the community – both under 30 years of age, both had wonderful careers and lives ahead of them.
“Yesterday as they did every day, they put their lives on the line to save their community … [and] they made the ultimate sacrifice.”
‘Lives cut short’
Speaking to ABC Radio Brisbane on Tuesday morning, Queensland Police Union (QPU) president Ian Leavers echoed Commissioner Carroll’s words, saying it was an absolute tragedy to lose the two young officers.
“Matt was 26 and Rachel 29, they haven’t even lived life I would say,” Leavers said.
“Our thoughts are with their families and their loved ones; they’re coming through the emotions of trying to comprehend this senseless execution-style murder that took place.”
Leavers said “there was no intelligence to suggest there was any danger or threats” in responding to a missing person investigation.
He said the local sergeant had assembled a team of 16 police officers, and “under heavy gunfire” went to the property to retrieve their “fallen colleagues”.
“They had actually hoped they were still alive and with medical assistance could be rendered, their lives could be saved, but to no avail,” he said.
“The two surviving police and 16 police who went in there are just real heroes that put their lives on the line to try and rescue our mates.”
Leavers spoke to Constable Arnold’s father on Monday night, and said he was “distraught”.
Surviving officers in hospital
The two surviving police officers, Constable Keely Brough and Constable Randall Kirk, both 28, were injured and taken to Chinchilla Hospital.
Both were from Chinchilla police station.
Commissioner Carroll said after attending the scene, it was clear to her that the “officers did not stand a chance.”
“There was considerable weaponry involved … the fact that two got out alive is a miracle,” she said.
“I cannot believe that they survived.”
Leavers said Constable Brough, who managed to escape from the scene, was sworn into the police service just eight weeks ago.
“Her training came in and when she believed her life was about to come to an end, she never stopped trying to do the right thing and communicate with her colleagues,” he said.
“She sent messages to loved ones because she thought her was time up.”
Terrible scenes in Wieambilla and a heartbreaking day for the families and friends of the Queensland Police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. My condolences to all who are grieving tonight – Australia mourns with you.
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) December 12, 2022
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the news of the shooting was “shocking” and he had spoken with the National Party leader David Littleproud, who is the federal member for the area.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the shooting was a “horrific tragedy” which was beyond belief, offering her condolences to the families of the two fallen officers.
“Something that no-one wants to wake up to or hear about,” she said.
Palaszczuk said the actions of the fallen officers were “incredibly brave”.
“These were absolutely callous, brutal acts and with honour they served,” she said.
“Our hearts just break for these two young beautiful officers who were just doing their jobs.”
Flags on government and council buildings will fly at half-mast in honour of the two fallen officers.
Chinchilla residents have begun laying flowers at the police station on Tuesday morning.
“In a small community, something like this happens and it’s quite overwhelming,” one resident said.
“They’re a great bunch of people and we should never forget that, they do a wonderful job.”
A declaration zone for the area between Chinchilla Tara Road, Wieambilla Road, Bennetts School Road and Mary Street was revoked shortly before 10am on Tuesday morning.
An ethical standards command investigation is underway into the police response, with oversight from the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz