A 59-year-old man has been charged with murder over the shooting death of a family following an alleged property dispute in remote North Queensland.
Mervyn and Maree Schawrz, a couple in their 70s, and their son Graham Tighe were fatally wounded in Bogie on Thursday morning allegedly at the hands of their neighbour.
Their other son, Ross Tighe, was critically injured in the attack.
He has since undergone surgery and remains in a serious condition.
Police on Friday revealed the family had only purchased the property, which is about 2.5 hours southwest of Bowen, within the last 12 months.
Investigating officers say the devastating event occurred on their neighbour’s property, which is about a 45 minute drive away, after an alleged discussion with the owner on Wednesday evening.
“We understand that there was a conversation that had occurred the night before which was the reason why the parties had met at the gate on the property in the morning,” Acting Superintendent Tim Armitt alleged.
He alleged that the property owner issued the invitation “for them to go there [to the gate] and discuss [it].”
The alleged shooter was charged with three counts of murder and another count of attempted murder.
He is expected to appear in the Proserpine Magistrates Court on Monday.
'Extreme bravery' to find suspect
Police discovered the lone survivor using a red vehicle near the scene.
After some confusion over where the alleged shooting had taken place, the bodies of the elderly couple and their son were discovered hours later about 40 kilometres away from where the survivor had been located.
Supt Armitt says the alleged crime scene at the gate was a three kilometre drive to the house where the alleged gunman was found.
He praised the bravery of those officers who made the arrest after moving through tens of thousands of acres of land on foot.
“We had a small team of police who drove forward into the [alleged] crime scene at that time not knowing whether the [allegedly] armed offender was present or not, putting their lives at great danger,” he told journalists on Friday.
“Especially when the report was that the people had been shot with a rifle.
“So that was slow and meticulous work and extremely brave of the officers who were involved in that time.”
Three people were subsequently taken into custody including the son of the property owner and a female family member who have both since been released.
Police appeal for information
Police say the 59-year-old accused is a long-term resident of the area.
Earlier on Friday, police appealed for any information into the alleged incident.
“We understand that there are a number of neighbouring properties in the area, we understand that there were a lot of people working in the area [and] mustering was occurring at the time,” Supt Armitt said.
“So we are seeking, especially in that area, if they have any knowledge of any issues that were going on out there at the time, or any movement of vehicles in and out of the area at that time, if they could please come forward and make contact with police.”
While police wouldn’t respond to reports that Graham Tighe, the son who was killed in the attack, had a newborn baby, they said they hoped the other son, Ross Tighe, would make a full recovery.
“He has obviously been shot so it is serious,” Supt Armitt said.
“He underwent surgery but he was able to converse with us and provide us with a version of what he saw and he is continuing to converse with detectives.”
“I can only empathise with how he is feeling right now.”
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