Rare gunfight kills six, including two police officers, in rural Australia

Gun crime is relatively rare in Australia, which implemented some of the world's toughest gun laws after a gunman killed 35 people in April 1996 at a cafe and tourist site in Tasmania.

 Two police officers among six killed in gunfight in rural Australia (photo credit: REUTERS)
Two police officers among six killed in gunfight in rural Australia
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Six people, including two police officers, were killed in a gunfight at a remote property in Australia's Queensland state, authorities said on Tuesday, after police visited a home there to investigate a missing person report.

When four officers arrived about 4:30 p.m. on Monday at the property in Wieambilla, about 300 km (186 miles) northwest of Queensland's capital, Brisbane, two armed people opened fire and killed two of them, police said, without identifying the suspects.

Police said there was then a "siege" at the house, without elaborating. Police said 16 specialist officers responded and, in a gun battle about 10:30 p.m., killed a 46-year-old man from Kewarra Beach, about 1,500km northwest of the property; and a 47-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman, both from Wieambilla.

Victims killed in the shootout

The slain police officers were Constable Matthew Arnold, 26, and Constable Rachel McCrow, 29, police said. The gunfire also killed a 58-year-old neighbor, police said, without providing the person's name.

Two other officers were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

 An Australian flag is seen hung in a tree burnt by bushfire on the property of farmer Jeff McCole in Buchan, Victoria, Australia (credit: REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY) An Australian flag is seen hung in a tree burnt by bushfire on the property of farmer Jeff McCole in Buchan, Victoria, Australia (credit: REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY)

Arnold and McCrow had gone to the home after a missing person report was filed in New South Wales for a person thought to be at the property.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the incident as a "terrible and heartbreaking day."

Gun crime is relatively rare in Australia, which implemented some of the world's toughest gun laws after a gunman killed 35 people in April 1996 at a cafe and tourist site at the former colonial prison of Port Arthur in the island state of Tasmania.

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the shooting was the largest loss of life in a single incident the state police have suffered in recent times.