Two police officers were shot dead in an ambush outside a house in rural northeast Australia Monday, sparking an hours-long gun battle that ended with the deaths of all three suspected shooters, Queensland police said.
Police named the two slain officers as Constable Matthew Arnold, 29, and Constable Rachel McCrow, 26. A 58-year-old civilian bystander was also killed in the incident, police said.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll on Tuesday said four police officers had gone to the remote property in Wieambilla, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest of Brisbane, during a search for a missing person – later identified as 46-year-old Nathaniel Train, according to New South Wales authorities.
When they arrived, they were “ambushed” by three shooters, Carroll said. Arnold and McCrow died instantly from gunshot wounds, while the other two officers were later taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“In my opinion those two officers did not stand a chance. The fact that two got out alive is a miracle,” Carroll said.
A total of 16 general duty police officers responded to scene to retrieve the officers’ bodies under fire, police said.
A police Special Emergency Response Team then exchanged fire with the suspects during a four-hour-long gun battle that ended with the deaths of the suspected shooters police said.
“There was considerable weaponry involved in what took place,” Carroll said.
Train, a former school principal who was declared missing by New South Wales Police on December 8, was one of the suspects shot dead, police said. CNN affiliates Seven News and Nine News reported that the other two suspects killed were Train’s brother and his wife.
“One of the deceased was a former NSW Education employee who had not been working at a NSW school since August 2021. He officially left our employment in March this year,” the NSW education department said in a statement Tuesday.
Speaking Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said “all Australians this morning will be mourning with the family of the police officers who’ve lost their lives in the line of duty and others who’ve been injured.”
“Police put their lives on the line for their fellow Australians each and every day, and this tragic news will be heartfelt around the country,” he said.