Three suspects have been shot dead by specialist tactical police in a firefight at a rural Queensland town following the deaths of two police officers and a neighbour.
The gunshots about 11.30pm signalled a bloody end to the emergency declaration made nearly six hours earlier on Monday night when residents in Wieambilla, south of Chinchilla and three hours west of Brisbane, were ordered to stay in their homes.
The massive police operation was sparked when a 29-year-old male and 26-year-old female officer were shot dead in an ambush at a property on Wains Rd by gunmen dressed in camouflage who then stole their police-issued weapons and radios.
They had gone to the small wooden house on the property with two other officers about 4.40pm on a missing persons case at the request of NSW Police when they were fired upon.
Three officers were hit and one escaped with a leg wound after being grazed by the bullet and rushed to Chinchilla Hospital. The neighbour was shot after hearing gunfire and going to investigate.
A fourth female officer was briefly unaccounted for while she took cover in the scrub but was later rescued by a specialist police tactical team scrambled to the scene.
Emergency crews at the rural property south of Chinchilla on Monday afternoon
The Australian Prime Minister expressed his condolences on Monday night
The town of Wieambilla, just south of Chinchilla in Queensland, has a population of about 100
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll confirmed three people have killed
At least one of the three gunmen was reportedly wearing camouflage and he walked up and shot the officers again as they lay injured on the ground.
Police-issued Glock pistols are then understood to have been lifted from the bodies and a fire was lit in an attempt to smoke out the remaining female officer who sought cover.
Queensland Police said ‘several’ police crews and PolAir helicopters were in attendance for the active operation on Monday night.
The two officer’s bodies have been retrieved by the tactical police team.
‘It’s just such a major shock to everyone,’ Western Downs Regional Council Mayor Paul McVeigh told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We are a very close-knit community and the Western Downs is a very caring region, so to have a tragedy like this, it’s just awful and our thoughts are with the police, their families and those affected.
‘At the moment, we have to realise the situation is still active and the perpetrators have not been caught.
‘So I urge everyone here to listen to police warnings and stay safe.’
Western Down Regional Council Mayor Paul McVeigh (pictured) said the community would rally behind the families, friends and colleagues of the officers and neighbour who were killed
The public was earlier told to avoid the area and nearby residents within the emergency zone – declared under the Public Safety Preservation Act – must remain indoors.
‘Wains Road is closed, and the declaration zone encompasses the area between Chinchilla Tara Rd, Wieambilla Rd, Bennetts School Rd, and Mary Street,’ Queensland police said.
The swathe of land in and around the exclusion zone is mainly made up of smaller farming properties, that have been subdivided and sold off over the past decades.
It is understood the area has a reputation for growing cannabis and often attracts people looking for a ‘recluse lifestyle’.
Police helicopters and officers from Queensland’s Special Emergency Response Team are in attendance.
Paramedics and two LifeFlight helicopters were also dispatched to the scene.
The zone for the emergency declaration as announced by Queensland Police
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll confirmed the three casualties at an emotional press conference about 10.30pm Monday.
‘Two officers were shot and declared deceased at the scene. A member of the public was also shot and is deceased,’ Commissioner Carroll said.
‘Another officer received a bullet graze and is receiving treatment in hospital and a fourth officer managed to escape the property and is also receiving treatment.’
‘The offenders are yet to be taken into custody. An operation, as I said, is currently unfolding at the location this evening involving PolAir and specialist police. We urge the public to stay away from this exclusion zone.’
‘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. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the officers’ families, friends and colleagues.’
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was heartbroken for the families and friends of the officers who had sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
‘My condolences to all who are grieving tonight – Australia mourns with you,’ he tweeted.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called the deaths a ‘horrible tragedy’ while federal Opposition leader Peter Dutton – a former Queensland police officer – said the incident was ‘deeply distressing’.
‘Police officers face danger every day to keep us from it,’ he said.
Police were called to the property and were fired upon from inside with several more police crews rushing to the scene