By HARRY CLARKE | EXCLUSIVE
UPDATE: A 59 year old man is in custody and is expected to be charged this afternoon over the shooting deaths of three people on a remote property south west of Bowen yesterday morning.
Police have provided an update on their investigation, after the bodies of Merv Schwarz, his wife Maree Schwarz and Ms Shwarz’s son Graham Tighe were found shot dead near the entrance to “Shannonvale Station”.
Acting Superintendent Tom Armitt confirmed the 59-year-old man is a long-term resident of the area and was among five people taken in for questioning overnight.
The man’s son and a female family member were also questioned and released, along with two wind farm workers who were on the property at the time.
“The deceased family in question have only been on their property a short amount of time. The person we have in custody is a long-term resident,” Armitt said.
“We understand there was a conversation that occurred the night before which was the reason why the parties had met at the gate on the property.”
The alarm was raised by another of Maree Schwarz’s sons, Ross Tighe, who was also shot but managed to escape in a ute and alert a neighbour several kilometres away.
“Initially police received information that a male person had been shot and he was reporting that three others were also shot,” Armitt said.
“He’d been transported approximately forty kilometres away from the scene of the shooting and there was some confusion about where the actual scene of the shooting had occurred.”
Acting Superintendent Tom Armitt described the actions of officers first on scene as, “extremely brave”.
“We had a small team of police who drove into the crime scene, at that time, not knowing whether the armed offender was present or not – putting their lives in grave danger, especially when the report was the people had been shot with a rifle.”
EARLIER: THREE members of the same family were the victims of a deadly shooting on a remote property south west of Bowen this morning, while a fourth family member survived with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Merv Schwarz, his wife Maree Schwarz and Ms Shwarz’s son Graham Tighe were all shot dead on the property “Shannonvale” on Shannonvale Rd, roughly 50km from Bowen, about 8.30am.
Another of Ms Schwarz’s sons, Ross Tighe, survived the shooting. It’s understood he managed to escape and flee the scene in a farm ute, raising the alarm with a neighbour several kilometres away.
Several crime scenes are in place and five people are assisting police with their investigations to establish exactly how the shooting occurred. No arrests have been made.
The Caller understands three of the people assisting police are neighbours of the victims, while two wind farm contractors who happened to be carrying out surveys in the area have also been caught up in the incident.
Ross Tighe was airlifted to Mackay Hospital in a critical condition and has since undergone emergency surgery. He is now in a serious but stable condition in hospital.
An emergency declaration was in place from 11.30am this morning until late this afternoon as police searched “Shannonvale Station” and surrounds.
Mackay Detective Inspector Tom Armitt said Special Emergency Response Team officers had been conducting clearances over an “extensive area”.
“It has taken a number of hours for police to search and clear the area, however we have declared a crime scene in the remote rural location where … we have located three deceased persons,” he said.
The Caller understands there have been ongoing disputes between neighbours in the area for several years, with accusations of cattle duffing and threats made.
The coastal range country which encompasses “Shannonvale” is notoriously difficult to access and navigate. Herds of wild and branded cattle roam in areas where no boundary fences exist between properties.
Neighbours were on alert throughout the day, some arming themselves with rifles and handguns, in the belief that a gunman was still on the loose somewhere in the mountains, however police confirmed this evening that they do not believe there is any ongoing danger to the public.
“(Police are) actively searching the area and commencing our investigations into the circumstances and how it came to be that these people have been shot,” Detective Inspector Armitt said.
Forensic examiners will resume investigations in the morning.