A siege is continuing with the man who shot and killed Queensland police officer Brett Forte during a traffic stop west of Brisbane on Monday.
Senior Constable Forte was killed after a “wanted man” evaded police in a traffic stop at Seventeen Mile in the Lockyer Valley just before 2pm.
Police have been negotiating with the suspected gunman – named in the media as Rick Maddison – holed up in a farm house near Gatton.
It’s believed Maddison is armed with a machine gun.
“This guy they are after, he has got serious history,” Queensland Police Union CEO Ian Leavers said on Tuesday morning, without going into details.
“I know a bit about him, but while it is unfolding I have to hold back.”
He has been described in media reports as a career criminal, which included a 2008 arrest in Gatton for torture, deprivation of liberty, and drug offences.
Mr Leavers indicated Maddison should not have been at large.
“I would like to say more but I just don’t want to hamper anything more because obviously there could be prosecution down the track and I want justice to happen very quickly.”
Commissioner Ian Stewart told a press conference late on Monday night that police wanted to resolve the stand-off “as peacefully as humanly possible”.
Police have cordoned off a large section of the area, forcing some locals to sleep in their cars.
Sen Const Forte’s death came after a police pursuit involving Maddison on Tuesday afternoon.
Maddison had been followed from Toowoomba, about 30 kilometres away, after he was identified as a person of interest.
A police source said Maddison got out of his car during the chase and shot Sen Const Forte before driving down a dirt road at Seventeen Mile.
After the shots were fired, the suspect fled on foot into nearby bushland. He also fired at a police helicopter while entering the farm house
“Obviously we want to try and resolve this situation as peacefully as humanly possible and we will take all steps to do that,” south Queensland’s assistant police commissioner Tony Wright said.
Locals were being urged to stay inside.
Queensland police commissioner Ian Stewart said Senior Constable Forte’s death was a sad day for the service
“We’ve lost a fine officer, and our condolences, and thoughts and love are with his wife and children, his family and his colleagues,” he said.
He said the incident again showed how “complex and dangerous the job of policing is in this state and our nation”.
“We thank Brett for his wonderful service to the community,” he said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her thoughts and prayers were with the officer’s family and friends.
“Every day, the brave officers of the Queensland Police Service put their lives on the line when they go to work,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Each of us should be immensely grateful for the work they do.”
Senior Constable Forte was working with Toowoomba’s Tactical Crime Squad at the time of his death. He had served with QPS for more than 15 years.
‘We could hear machine-gun fire’
“Then the police cars started arriving. Initially they pulled up in front of my place and got weapons out of the back of the car, and they were looking into the paddock across the road — where I heard the firing from — and then they moved up the road about 400 metres.”
He said police had blocked off roads and were searching cars, while armoured vehicles had been called in and a police helicopter had been flying above for several hours.
Mr Beard said he sometimes heard recreational shooting in the area, but the shots he heard on Monday afternoon were very different.
“You can tell the difference between shotguns and shooting at clay, and a semi-automatic,” he said.
Another local resident, Dan Santillan, said he had been hearing “machine-gun fire” from about 500m away ever since 2:45pm.
“We had a police car come by and they recommended we go inside, lock the house and stay away from windows and the road,” Mr Santillan said.
“My partner and my daughter have left and gone to a friend’s house on the other side of town to be away from it.
“Once we started hearing machine-gun fire I rounded them up and told them to leave.”
‘Family man’ remembered
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said he personally knew Mr Forte, having worked with him when he first joined the QPS.
“He was a decent person, a family man who was respected by all of his colleagues,” Mr Leavers said.
He said Mr Forte’s family and work colleagues were being supported.
“His partner, who was working with him, she’s in good spirits, as good as she can be at this point in time.”
Tributes have also been paid on social media.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends n colleagues of Senior Constable Brett Forte,” Lockyer Valley Mayor Tanya Milligan wrote.