Gunman shot dead after standoff in croc-infested swamp
POLICE shot dead a crazed gunman in a shootout after a 10-hour siege in a crocodile-infested swamp in Cairns today.
Police allege the offender was in waist-deep water when he raised his firearm and they returned fire at about 3.15pm.
Witnesses reported hearing a volley of three bursts of automatic gunfire of between 10 and 20 shots.
The man who had earlier fired multiple shots at officers was pronounced dead at the scene.
It follows a long day of the gunman evading capture and crocodiles in the sugar cane fields and mangrove swamps of Thomatis Creek, just north of Cairns airport.
The victim's name and alleged criminal activity, including known methamphetamine drug abuse, has been widely circulated in unconfirmed reports on social media.
Police said the man allegedly attempted to break into an infrastructure facility off the Captain Cook Highway at Palm Cove at 4.30am.
He was disturbed by a nearby resident and left the scene. As the man was leaving in his car, he deliberately collided with a police vehicle attending the incident.
Officers immediately requested further assistance and multiple crews responded.
A short time later at Smithfield the man allegedly deliberately veered towards a police officer on the side of the road.
As a result, a 26-year-old constable suffered a suspected broken wrist and other non-life-threatening injuries.
The man's vehicle stopped on the Captain Cook Highway at Yorkey's Knob where he allegedly set it on fire.
As police approached, the man allegedly produced a firearm and discharged a shot towards officers prior to running from his vehicle.
Police established a cordon around an area to the west of the Captain Cook Highway to contain the man.
"While trying to identify the man's whereabouts among the long grass, several shots were allegedly fired towards police and a helicopter,'' a police spokesman said.
"Around 3.15pm, it will be alleged the man was in waist deep water and raised the firearm towards police. As a result, the man was critically injured when police returned fire.
"The man was pronounced deceased at the scene."
Police Chief Superintendent Brian Huxley said the SERT officers who shot dead the gunman had the right to defend their lives.
"I'm extremely grateful no police are dead,'' he said.
"If officers are in fear of their life, they can take lethal action.
"He fired multiple shots with a high-powered rifle at police, and at the rescue helicopter.
"He purposely drove straight at the officer who was injured, and tried to run him down.
"We've got no idea what set him off, but there will be a long, complex and protracted investigation.''
He said police negotiators did their best to contact the gunman to talk him out of the standoff.
"But he was avoiding us, for quite a bit of time he was in the muddy, croc-infested water.
"And a large crocodile was sighted during the siege.''
This matter is under investigation by Ethical Standards Command on behalf of the State Coroner. That investigation is subject to oversight by the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Originally published as Man shot by cops after standoff in croc-infested swamp