One of two men shot by Victoria Police near the NSW border during an attempted counter-terror assessment was on a watch list and had a long hatred of police.
Two brothers, aged 30 and 19, were shot near a camping ground at Barnawartha North near the Victoria-NSW border on Wednesday afternoon after the attempted check turned violent.
“The older one was the focus of our attention. The person is known to Victoria Police, South Australian police and New South Wales police,” Counter Terrorism Command Assistant Commissioner Ross Guenther said in Melbourne on Thursday.
Mr Guenther said the 30-year-old had committed to a fundamentalist form of Islam several years ago before being sent to prison in NSW and had been converting his three brothers, including the 19-year-old.
Officers tried to pull over the brothers, near a camping ground at Barnawartha North about 3pm on Wednesday.
Mr Guenther earlier told Melbourne radio state 3AW that counter-terror officers were trying to find one of the men to assess if he was a risk.
“It was an intention to go and meet with that person with some of our interstate partners and look at whether we could test their level of radicalisation and any intent to commit an act of violence,” he said.
However, that meeting never took place. Instead the violence erupted.
— James Hancock (@jameshancockABC) June 12, 2019
Mr Guenther said the older brother had gone to Bangladesh to get married and returned to Australia. He was considered a high threat level, and also had historical bikie links from time spent in South Australia.
“The older brother has been a person of interest to us for at least two years,” Mr Guenther said.
“He was on a list… We have over 100 people that we monitor at various levels on that list, he was definitely one of those that was on the list.
“[He] has a history of a pretty strong hatred of police, which is long founded, which is pretty much evidenced in the way things played out.”
When the brothers were found on Wednesday, they rammed the police car and lunged at the officers with a knife and a tomahawk.
Police said earlier that one of the men charged at officers and was shot. They then tried to negotiate with the second man “for a number of minutes” and used capsicum spray and a taser on him, but he would not put down his weapon. He was then shot after lunging at police with his weapon.
Both men were taken to Albury Hospital with serious injuries. The 30-year-old was later flown to The Alfred hospital in Melbourne with abdominal injuries.
He will be interviewed when his injuries are deemed “survivable”. The 19-year-old remains in the Albury hospital.
An officer was also reportedly injured in the confrontation. Few details are available on the officer’s injuries or condition.
A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said the pair “were not radicalised while in a NSW prison”. As the matter was for Victoria Police, she would not comment further.
Premier Daniel Andrews said Australia’s terror alert level remained on probable.
“It is why we take these matters so, so seriously,” he said.
“It is why there is a counter-terrorism command with a couple of hundred people working in it.”
Homicide Squad detectives are investigating the shooting, along with the Professional Standards Command.