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Suspect in custody after three people shot dead on Queensland cattle farm

Dispute between neighbours cited as reason for shootings on rural property as man taken into custody.

August 5, 2022
By Robyn Wuth
5 August 2022

The person believed to have shot dead three people on a property in rural Australia is in custody as details of a potential motive for the killings slowly come to light.

The alleged gunman is one of three people currently being held by police, while a fourth victim continues to recover in hospital after being shot in the stomach.

The victims are all from the same family and have been named in multiple media reports as Mervyn and Maree Schwarz, and Maree’s son Graham Tighe.

Graham’s brother Ross Tighe is recovering in hospital and was interviewed by police overnight, acting Superintendent Tom Armitt told Channel Nine on Friday.

“What we do know is that the parties involved are neighbours and some conversation has occurred between the parties,” he said.

The neighbours are believed to have met at the boundary line of their properties early on Thursday morning when the incident occurred.

No charges have been laid.

The injured man staggered for several kilometres before raising the alarm. He was airlifted to Mackay Base Hospital where he remains in a serious but stable condition.

Several crime scenes have been established at the property and forensic teams will continue searches on Friday morning.

Police said there is no ongoing danger to the public, after locals were urged to avoid the area earlier on Thursday.

“We are actively searching the area and committing our investigations as to what the circumstances were and how tactically people have been shot,” Mackay District Superintendent Tom Armitt told reporters.

“We do not know who was responsible. We haven’t been able to get any other details from the male person who had been shot, as he required emergency transport back to the hospital and he’s currently undergoing emergency surgery.”

Police had to clear the property and ensure the area was safe before the bodies could be retrieved.

“We believe that the person who shot them may still be in the area … We haven’t been able to get close enough at the present time to confirm anyone’s identity.” 

An emergency declaration was made at 11.30am Thursday, with boundaries encompassing Sutherland Rd, Normanby Rd, Mount Compton Rd and Starvation Creek.

Police later updated the declaration to include Shannonvale Road where the shooting took place.

Supt Armitt described the incident as a “very rare event” and said police would remain on the scene for as long as it took to track down the gunman. 

Whitsunday Regional Councillor Jan Clifford said the tight-knit community would be devastated.

“To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever happened in the Whitsunday region before,” Cr Clifford said.

“We are all deeply saddened by the tragedy.”

Cr Clifford said the incident was bound to have a big effect on the tiny community of Bogie, which has a population of 207 according to the latest census data.

“It’s a little village. Everyone will know everyone ... It’s just awful.” 

One woman working in nearby Collinsville said the entire community was in shock. 

“The whole town is a bit rattled that something like that could happen here,” she told AAP. 

“It’s a small town, everyone knows everyone.” 

An employee at the local petrol station admitted being scared to work the night shift as the gunman continued to evade authorities. 

“I am here alone,” she said. “I’m a bit worried now.

“We heard something was going on, but three people killed? That’s scary – it’s not that far away.”

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