Queensland Police are refusing to disclose what information they had on the Wieambilla shooters before the attack, as questions mount over the decision to send junior officers to visit individuals with a recent history of hostile and erratic behaviour that was known to police.
In the week since the attack on a remote property in Queensland’s Western Downs that left three victims — including two police officers — and the three perpetrators dead, the state’s police service has given few details about the lead-up to the shooting.
Queensland Police Service commissioner Katarina Carroll said last week that she did not have the “full extent of information” about what was known about Gareth, Nathaniel and Stacey Train before the shooting.
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QPS declined to answer questions about whether officers had visited the Wieambilla property or interacted with the Trains recently: “While the matter is currently being investigated, and respecting the sensitivities of the families involved, it would be inappropriate for the QPS to provide further comment at this time.”
Train brothers’ run-ins with the law
New details about the Trains’ online history and alleged previous run-ins with police have come to light.
On Friday, Crikey was first to report on a now-deleted YouTube channel that posted footage from Gareth and Stacey Train in the lead-up to, and even during, the fatal attack.
In several videos and comments, the account’s users alluded to specific interactions with police. One video, posted on Friday morning, uses the logo and theme music for the US television program Cops before naming four Queensland and NSW police officers.
“Let’s get straight to the question that all you boys want answered,” an artificially lowered male voice says.
The voice tells them to ask another named police officer “what happens when you come up on old Daniel here and threaten to pull your pistols”. Gareth Train’s middle name is Daniel, and he appears to refer to himself using it throughout the videos.
The video is accompanied by a paranoid caption: “You attempt to abduct us using contractors. You attempt to intimidate and target us with your Raytheon Learjets and planes. You sent ‘covert’ assets out here to my place in the bush. So what is your play here? To have me and my wife murdered during a state police ‘welfare check’? You already tried that one.”
The account responded to a comment from an obscure American Christian conspiracy theory by referencing previous police interactions: “My phone number & front gate seem to have become popular. ‘Welfare checks’ aka state sponsored murder has started up again.”
Other videos make claims about police corruption, consistent with Gareth Train’s comments on fringe Australian conspiracy websites and forums.
Police had also received reports regarding Gareth’s brother Nathaniel. On Saturday, the ABC reported that he had driven a 4WD filled with loaded guns and knives through a NSW border gate into Queensland last year.
A farmer claims to have seen Nathaniel leaving his car in floodwater after having cut through the border gates using an angle grinder. They claimed he asked them for a lift; rescued guns, a bow and arrow and some “Rambo” knives out of his flooded car; and borrowed a phone to call someone. The farmer said Nathaniel spoke in code on the phone and was subsequently picked up by someone.
“[Nathaniel] said he was an ‘anti-vaxxer’ and had lost his job because he wouldn’t get vaccinated and couldn’t see his family in Queensland,” the farmer told the ABC.
The farmer told the ABC they had spoken to the police about the incident.
What did police know before the attack?
Dr Terry Goldsworthy, an associate professor in criminology at Bond University, said the coronial inquest into the Wieambilla shooting will investigate what caused the Trains to attack police and also the decisions that led to four junior officers going to the remote property that day.
“There’s a lot of unknowns,” he said.
Goldsworthy suggested a number of questions that an inquiry would answer, including:
- What information came from NSW Police regarding the missing persons report about Nathaniel Train that was put out the week before
- Why were two crews (or four police) sent
- Why were only junior officers sent
- What intelligence did police have before the attack
- What was the source of the tip that caused police to attend
- Did the assailants know police were coming
- What were the attackers’ motivations?
Police will be reluctant to speak more until after the officers’ funerals this week, Goldsworthy said, but would probably start to release more information leading up to a colonial inquest.
“It’s going to be an unfolding story,” he said.