(Update 1: New headline, lede, adds PM’s speech, edits throughout)
Sydney, Australia, Dec 13 (EFE).- Australia’s prime minister on Tuesday paid tribute to the two police officers and a civilian who were shot dead during a six-hour siege at a remote rural property in Queensland.
Constable Matthew Arnold, 26, Constable Rachel McCrow, 29, and 58-year-old Alan Dare were killed in an ambush by three offenders, who were later shot dead by police, at a property in Wieambilla, in the Western Downs region, some 270 kilometers west of Brisbane on Monday. Two other officers were wounded.
“All Australians are shocked and saddened by this tragic loss of life,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Tuesday.
“Two Queensland police officers, their lives cut short by this atrocity (…) I pay tribute to them. I pay tribute, as well, to their surviving fellow officers Constable Randall Kirk and Constable Keeley Brough,” he added.
“In addition I pay tribute to a neighbour driven by the instinct to help – Alan Dare also lost his life in this tragedy. Three lives cruelly cut short. This is, indeed, a devastating day for everyone who loved these Australians.”
The four officers had gone to the property at the request of police in the neighboring state of New South Wales to check on the whereabouts of a missing person.
That missing person was identified Tuesday as 46-year-old former primary school principal Nathaniel Train, who was one of the alleged offenders shot dead by police, alongside his brother Gareth (Gavin) Train and a yet to be identified woman, according to public broadcaster ABC.
The property is listed as being owned by Gareth and Stacey Train, it added.
Queensland Police Union President Ian Leavers said the two officers were “executed in cold blood” by a “ruthless, murderous trio,” ABC reported.
“As they entered the property, they were just inundated with gunfire, and they never had a chance,” Leavers said.
He added that neighbor Dare was killed when he arrived to investigate.
From the first arrival of the four officers, through the arrival of special operations police, to the end of the siege at 10.30 pm, officers “were continually under fire,” he said.
Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll said at a press conference in the town of Chinchilla, Western Downs, that “those (attending) officers did not stand a chance. The fact that two got out alive is a miracle,” adding there was “considerable weaponry involved.”
A minute’s silence was held at the nearby Tara police station on Tuesday for the two slain officers who were stationed there, and floral tributes had been left outside the building.
The commissioner said it would take days, if not weeks, to unravel what transpired Monday. EFE