Photograph: Jason O’Brien/EPA
Six people have died, including two police officers, at a remote Queensland property after an ambush described as a “ruthless” and “cold-blooded” murder.
The officers and a neighbor were shot dead on Monday night and their suspected killers – a former school principal, his brother and sister-in-law – were later shot dead in a firefight with heavily armed tactical police.
Related: Wieambilla shooting: Owner Gareth Train regularly posted on online conspiracy website before police were killed
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the horrific incident was devastating to the families of the victims and the entire police force.
The reason for the initial shooting is still unknown. Here’s what we know so far about what happened:
4:30 p.m. Monday
Police have been dispatched to a regional property on Wain Road in Wieambilla, about 300km west of Brisbane, as part of a search for missing NSW man Nathaniel Train, 46 years, from Dubbo.
The train had been reported missing on December 4.
Train, his brother Gareth Train and Gareth’s wife Stacey have been identified as the suspected murderers by senior law enforcement sources. They allegedly staged the ambush, gunning down the officers as they entered the property.
Constables Matthew Arnold, 26, and Rachel McCrow, 29, jumped a fence and were shot as they walked up the driveway to the house on the property.
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said officers were greeted by “a hail of bullets” after breaking through the fence.
“They didn’t know what was going to happen,” he told ABC radio. After being shot, they fell to the ground.
“These ruthless murderers then went to execute the two policemen who were on the ground. They were executed in cold blood.
Their two colleagues, Constables Keeley Brough and Randall Kirk, both 28, took cover behind them. Kirk suffered a gunshot abrasion while Brough managed to escape by hiding in the grass.
Brough and Kirk were later taken to hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
During the ambush, the assailants lit a grass fire in an attempt to drag the policewoman out of hiding.
“They lit some weed on fire to try to get her out…which just shows the lack of compassion and the kind of people they really are,” Leavers said.
“She actually believed that she was going to be shot or that she was going to be burned alive. She had accepted that it was the end of her life.
Neighbor Alan Dare, having seen smoke or heard gunshots, came to check on what was going on and was shot. He died at the scene.
Police issued an emergency declaration under the Public Safety Preservation Act, which shut down the nearby area and warned residents to stay indoors.
Sixteen specialist police and PolAir, led by a local sergeant, arrived at the property and a siege began.
The two men and a woman were shot dead in a firefight with police, police said.
“Two men and a woman were shot and killed in a clash with police shortly after 10:30 p.m.,” police said in a statement early Tuesday morning.
Commissioner Carroll said she attended the scene and officers “didn’t stand a chance”.
They were all shot in an area with little or no cover, she said.
“The fact that two came out alive is a miracle,” she said. “Think [two] surviving the scene, not speaking…called for help, is just amazing.
Guardian Australia later revealed that the owner of the property, Gareth Train, was regularly posted on an online conspiracy website.
– with the PAA