By Rory Callinan, Luke Royes and Paul Johnson
Special Operations police have shot dead three people in a gunfight that followed the deaths of two Queensland police officers and a member of the public at a rural property west of Brisbane.
The Queensland Police Union (QPU) confirmed the news to the ABC through a spokesperson, citing QPU president Ian Leavers.
“Our thoughts are also with police who bravely contained and managed the subsequent operation that has now resulted in the deaths of all the offenders,” Leavers wrote in a statement to members.”
It was also confirmed that both police officers who died were under the age of 30 in what Leavers alleged was a “targeted execution”.
“To know that she and he are no longer with us in what was a ruthless, calculated and targeted execution of our colleagues and loved ones brings home the very real risks that we face every single day doing our jobs.”
Another officer received a bullet graze and is receiving treatment in hospital after the shooting at Wieambilla, in the Western Downs, Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said.
A fourth officer managed to escape the property and is also receiving treatment.
The officers were at a property on Wain’s Road investigating a missing person from New South Wales when the attack happened.
At a press conference late on Monday night, the commissioner said it was an “active event” and those responsible had not been captured.
“An operation is currently unfolding at the location this evening involving PolAir and specialist colleagues,” Commissioner Carroll said.
“While we are yet to learn the full extent of what has occurred today, we do know this event is extraordinarily distressing on many levels.
“Tragically, this is this is the largest loss of life we have suffered in one single incident in recent times.”
A declaration zone has been issued for the area and the street where the incident happened has been closed.
Residents have been told to stay indoors until further notice.
A major police investigation is underway following the deaths of multiple people including two police officers during a shooting incident in the Western Downs yesterday (December 12).https://t.co/4qe9odkc1I pic.twitter.com/uU3ibwMTnu
— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) December 12, 2022
Earlier on Monday afternoon multiple ambulances were called to the scene, where neighbours reported hearing dozens of gun shots and witnessing cars on fire.
The property where the shooting took place is set among small acreage blocks and has a small wooden house.
A local resident is believed to have been shot after going to investigate what appeared to be a car fire at a neighbouring property.
A neighbour said the man was shot as he walked up to the gate. Another man who was with him was reported to have run to safety.
Residents described hearing what they believed to be a semi-automatic weapon being fired on the property, which had been unoccupied until the past week.
Australia PM pays tribute to those killed
Australia’s police Minister Mark Ryan said it was a “traumatic, confronting and devastating event” and paid tribute to the two “heroes” who lost their lives.
“I express my sincere condolences to their family, friends and colleagues and the entire police family,” he said.
“These officers serve with honour and we will always remember their sacrifice and service of our community.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described the shooting as a “horrible tragedy”.
“I extend my deepest respects to their families and to the Queensland Police Service family as a whole,” she tweeted.
“Our police risk their lives every day to keep us safe. I know Queensland joins with me in expressing our shock and sadness.”
Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was a “heartbreaking day” for the loved ones of the officers killed.
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
Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh said multiple emergency crews in Dalby have been called to help.
“There’s been constant sirens out here, and it sounds like an absolute tragedy,” he said.
He said it was a major concern for the Western Downs community.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz