Police have shot two men at a Murray River campground.
Police have shot two men at a Murray River campground.

Jihad drama: Police shoot terror suspect brothers

TWO brothers with terror and bikie links have been seriously wounded in a police shooting near a Murray River campground. Police opened fire after the men rammed a police car near the Victoria-NSW border and got out armed with weapons.

Police on Wednesday night said one of the armed brothers was shot as he lunged at an officer with a weapon, and the other was wounded after he refused to surrender.

The Herald Sun can reveal that the brothers, wounded on Wednesday in a confrontation on the banks of the Murray River, had outlaw motorcycle gang links. Aged 19 and 30, they are believed to be from NSW and had recently relocated to Victoria.

The brothers converted to Islam while in prison in NSW and are considered to be of low-level ­interest to counter-terrorism police.

Victoria Police said on Wednesday night there was no ongoing threat to the community. A major investigation was under way after the pair was ­seriously injured by gunfire after a vehicle stop in which a police car was rammed.

It is believed the violence had ­exploded when officers performed what has been described as a "precautionary" check on the suspects.

The men then rammed the police car and got out of their vehicle with weapons - thought to be a knife and a type of axe.

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Police at the crime scene at Richardsons Bend campground, near Barnawartha. Picture: Simon Dallinger
Police at the crime scene at Richardsons Bend campground, near Barnawartha. Picture: Simon Dallinger

They were shot at the isolated Richardsons Bend Campground, in Barnawartha North about 3pm.

Both were last night in hospital under police guard.

Police and ambulance officers rushed to the scene by road and helicopter. Paramedics worked on the ­injured men before they were taken to hospital.

Police were not seeking anyone else over the ­incident.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Clive Rust said investigators from Counter Terrorism Command "unexpectedly" saw the brothers in a service station and tried to intercept them, but they drove off.

He said the CT officers then asked for help from local uniformed members, resulting in the confrontation at Richardsons Bend.

The Murray River campground where the shootings occurred. Picture: Nine News
The Murray River campground where the shootings occurred. Picture: Nine News

 

"The two males rammed the police vehicle and then alighted from their own vehicle and confronted the police," Mr Rust said. "The two males were armed with edged weapons.

"One man lunged at the officers and was shot.

"There was a standoff between the officers and the second male for a number of minutes as the police attempted to negotiate with the man.

"Police tried to control this person by the use of nonlethal force. They utilised OC foam and a taser and then this male person lunged at police, and he was subsequently shot also."

The men were rushed to Albury Hospital in serious conditions.

One was later flown to Melbourne.

Mr Rust said there were indications the men were camping at Richardsons Bend.

He said CT officers wanted to speak to the men to "assess whether or not they were any risk to community safety.

 

Police and SES at the scene. Picture: Simon Dallinger
Police and SES at the scene. Picture: Simon Dallinger

 

Police at the scene. Picture: Channel 9
Police at the scene. Picture: Channel 9

"We're treating this as a violent attack on police members, not as a terrorism incident," Mr Rust said.

"They were residents of NSW and had recently moved into Victoria and that's the reason why our investigators were attempting to contact them to ascertain what the actual level of their involvement was in regard to counter-terrorism."

One of the offenders was shot in the abdomen and a leg.

The officers, from the Wodonga command area, would receive support from the force and the Police Association, Mr Rust said.

June Chilvers, who lives nearby, saw at least four police cars speed by her property in the aftermath.

"I saw them fly along, four cars," she said. "I saw them fly past."

John Malcolm, who lives about 2km from the campground, had been at Richardsons Bend just minutes before the shooting and saw nothing to ­indicate the trouble that followed. There was barely anyone staying at the camping spot in the cold and wet conditions.

"I saw one bloke, who I reckon lives down there, has a tent down there," Mr Malcolm said. "There's a lot of free camping, free parking," he said

The circumstances are expected to be the subject of an internal investigation, but Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt backed the officers' actions.

"As a community, we are all in debt to our police members every time they go out and put our safety ahead of their own," Mr Gatt said.

Makeshift shelters were set up at the scene where ­detectives were expected to work well into the night.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the government had advice that there was no ongoing threat to the community.

"I want to thank the brave Victoria Police officers who put themselves in harm's way every single day to keep Victorians safe," Mr Andrews said.

 

A police tent near the scene of the shootings.
A police tent near the scene of the shootings.

 

Murray River map for police shooting
Murray River map for police shooting

 

BULLETS FLY IN CAMPGROUND CONFRONTATION

The isolated Richardsons Bend camping ground is a most unlikely venue for bullets to fly in a showdown between terror suspects and police.

Nestled under gum trees by the Murray River, it is a favoured holiday spot for locals and the odd visitor from outside the Barnawartha North area.

On Wednesday, wet and cold, there was even less to indicate the events about to unfold.

A local, John Malcolm, who lives about 2km away, was at Richardsons Bend just minutes before the shooting.

"I saw one bloke, who I reckon lives down there, has a tent down there" Mr Malcolm said.

"There was nothing going on whatsoever. It was quiet."

But at about 3am, all hell broke loose.

A vehicle containing two men drove into the reserve, closely followed by at least one police unit.

Anyone not knowing the area would probably be unaware they were heading for a dead-end - their escape route terminated by the Murray.

It is unclear where and why police wanted to intercept the pair.

But the Herald Sun has been told weapons were brandished by the cornered suspects at the campground.

An unknown number of shots were fired by the police in reply, sparking a huge emergency response.

Suddenly, Richardsons Bend was a major crime scene.

It was not the kind of thing locals had ever expected would be played out on their patch.

"A lot of idiots go down there with the four-wheel-drives and tear the place up, but not shootings, not terror," Mr Malcolm said.

Another nearby resident, Tony, was stunned by the events and revelations of potential terror links.

"I'll make sure I've got my guns polished up for next time," Tony said.

"They didn't know the area obviously.

"They've gone down there and they couldn't get out.

"It's a real trap there. Right on the bloody water, right there on the river."

tamsin.rose@news.com.au

@tamsinroses

The police crime scene at Richardsons Bend Campground, near Barnawartha. Picture: Nine News
The police crime scene at Richardsons Bend Campground, near Barnawartha. Picture: Nine News

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