A North Queensland farmer has been charged with three counts of murder for the shooting deaths of his neighbours and one count of attempted murder.
The 59-year-old accused has been identified in media as Darryl Young, a long-time Bowen local who police allege was involved in a boundary dispute over the remote properties at Bogie, west of Bowen.
He’s alleged to have shot at close range with a rifle cattle farmers Maree, 59, and Mervyn, 71, Schwarz and Maree’s son Graham Tighe, 35, after inviting them to the boundary line of their properties on Thursday morning.
Graham’s brother Ross was also shot in the stomach but managed to escape and drive some 40km while critically injured to get help.
Two other people who were being held by police, understood to be family of Young, have been released.
Young was arrested on his property at Bogie on Thursday after police locked down the area surrounding the rural cattle properties and conducted a sweep.
The Courier Mail reports one of the victims, Graham, recently welcomed a baby boy and had only spent a few days with the newborn because his wife was still in hospital.
Mrs Schwarz’s brother-in-law Greg Austen, a Clermont-based Isaac Regional Council member, told The Courier Mail a boundary war over the two farms had been raging for years, going back to the previous owners.
“It (the dispute) has been going on for years, even with the people who were there before them,” Mr Austen said.
“One bloke thought it was put up in the wrong place … it’s just ridiculous.
“You don’t really take much notice of those things and hope they sort themselves out.”
Mr Austen said the brothers were “bush boys” and loveable, adoring dads, who worshipped their kids.
He told the newspaper Graham just got married and had a little girl as well as the boy who was just few weeks old.
Ross had a girl, he said.
“They’re all a good crew – they’re just a great normal family that you see in the bush,” he told The Courier Mail.
“They were into horse riding, rodeo, gymkhana and had a few drinks on the weekend.
“We’re all pretty deeply in shock and all over the place.
“The family are all in different areas and coming from everywhere … I think everybody still can’t quite believe it.”
Superintendent Tom Armitt told the Nine Network that Young and the Schwarzes had met at the boundary line on invitation from the accused.
“What I can say is that there was an invitation for them to go there and discuss,” he said.
“What we do know is that all parties are neighbours, some conversation has occurred between the parties and resulted in a meeting up at the parties’ boundary line earlier that morning when the incident occurred.
“We understand that there was a conversation the night before that was the reason they met the next morning.”
It’s understood the Schwarzes had only moved to the property from Clermont, west of Rockhampton, after purchasing the property for $10 million.
Young was known to police and his family was reportedly well known in Central Queensland, having owned properties across the region.
He is due to appear in the Proserpine Magistrates Court on Monday, August 8.
Whitsunday councillor Mike Brunker told the Seven Network the small community of 207 residents would be relieved the suspect was in custody,
“I think these people had only moved over here 12 months ago from out west … just an absolute tragic situation,” he said.
Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan said the shooting was particularly confronting given Australia’s strong gun laws.
“This is a tragedy on so many levels and obviously there’s a police investigation. Hopefully, that investigation is completed soon so that we can provide closure to the family who have lost loved ones,” he said on Friday.