Two police officers have been killed along with a member of the public during a shooting incident in rural Queensland, Australia that remains “active”.
The Queensland police commissioner, Katarina Carroll, on Monday said the situation remained an “active event”. She said in “devastating news” two officers had been shot and killed. A third person, a member of the public, had also been killed.
“We are an organisation in mourning tonight,” Carroll said. The commissioner said the alleged offenders had not been captured.
Police were called to a rural property at Wains Road in Wieambilla, in the Western Downs region, some 270km west of Brisbane, about 4.45pm local time on Monday.
Ms Carroll said four officers attended the property in relation to a reported missing person from New South Wales.
Two officers were killed at the scene, a third suffered a “bullet graze” and was in hospital and the fourth managed to escape the property and was receiving treatment, Ms Carroll said.
No additional information was provided regarding the member of the public who was shot.
“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,” Ms Carroll said.
“I extend my heartfelt condolences to the officers’ families, friends and colleagues. Our thoughts are with them during this extremely difficult time.
“Those officers paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep our community safe. It is, sadly, a reminder of the unpredictable nature of policing and the incredible dangers our officers face while protecting our community.”
Ms Carroll said “our priority right now is to ensure those responsible are brought to justice and that family, friends and colleagues of the officers involved are being supported as much as possible”.
Before Queensland police confirmed the details on Monday night, the Western Downs regional council mayor, Paul McVeigh, said the deaths were a tragedy.
“It’s an absolute tragedy in our community,” Mr McVeigh told Guardian Australia. “A couple of young police officers shot dead is an absolute tragedy.”
Mr McVeigh said he would offer “whatever support” he could on behalf of the community rallying around the police force.
The officers who responded were from the nearby towns of Tara and Chinchilla, Mr McVeigh said.
The Queensland police minister, Mark Ryan, said the hearts of Queenslanders were broken.
“This is a tragedy on so many levels and the thoughts of all of us are with the police family tonight. This is a traumatic, confronting and devastating event for our community.
“The Queensland police service has lost two heroes tonight and I express my sincere condolences to their family, friends and colleagues and the entire police family.”
An emergency declaration was issued on Monday evening for the Wieambilla area and Wains Road was closed to the public.
Residents within Chinchilla Tara Road, Wieambilla Road, Bennetts School Road and Mary Street were told to stay indoors until further notice.
Roads remained closed in a large area containing multiple properties on Monday.
The Queensland Ambulance Service was on the scene and a spokesperson described the incident as ongoing.
An ambulance spokesperson said four crews were responding to a “QPS incident” but were stationed outside the declared zone. There were at least three emergency services helicopters responding to the incident.
The Wieambilla area is a known black spot for communications. – Guardian with Australian Associated Press