An alleged gunman is in custody after a horrific mass shooting left three members of the same family dead and a fourth fighting for life in hospital – as incredible new details emerge about how the sole survivor escaped.
Mervyn and Maree Schwarz, and Maree’s son Graham Tighe, were shot dead at their rural property in the small mining town of Bogie, in the Whitsundays region of north Queensland, at about 9am on Thursday.
Graham Tighe’s younger brother Ross miraculously survived the horror ordeal by making it several kilometres away to raise the alarm after being hit with a bullet in the stomach.
Queensland Police Acting Superintendent Tom Armitt said on Friday morning three of the five people assisting police on Thursday night remained in custody and that ‘the person nominated as the alleged gunman is with us here in custody.’
‘The investigation is active at this stage. So any charges, pending charges will be later on today,’ he said.
Daily Mail Australia can reveal the family had only bought the huge 300-square-kilometre plot of land for $10million in May 2021, which is zoned for cattle grazing, breeding and farming purposes.
Maree and Mervyn Schwarz died from gunshots wounds, along with Maree’s son Graham Tighe. Another son is hospital
Maree Schwarz – who recently became a grandmother – was shot dead at the property on Shannonvale Rd, Bogie on Thursday. Her husband and one of her sons were also killed
Investigators haven’t revealed what sparked the tragedy, but locals say there has been a heated dispute over property boundaries between neighbours in the area.
Ross was able to alert police to the threat after escaping the chaos at the farm despite his life-threatening injuries.
Police said the blood-soaked victim made it to another property ‘many, many kilometres away’ and contacted authorities.
He was airlifted to Mackay Hospital in a critical condition and rushed into emergency surgery where he remains in a stable condition in the intensive care unit.
‘He was able to tell police that he had been shot and three others (were) also shot,’ Acting Superintendent Armitt said.
‘We believe the male was able to extract himself from the area. He was fleeing from the scene.’
Acting Superintendent Armitt said on Friday Ross was able to be interviewed by police overnight.
The family had only bought the huge 300-square-kilometre plot of land (pictured) for $10million in May 2021
Three people are dead while a fourth person was also shot in the stomach. He was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition
‘He is recovering from his injuries and we will be able to speak to him again this morning,’ Acting Superintendent Armitt said.
‘There is not too much detail I can tell you right now. What we do know is that the parties involved are neighbours.
‘Some conversation has occurred between the parties and resulted in a meeting up of the parties at the boundary line in the early hours of yesterday morning when the incident occurred.’
Police said Mr Tighe was ‘obviously in a very distressed state’ when he originally spoke to officers.
This led to some initial confusion about where the scene of the crime took place.
‘We were able to conduct searches ourselves based on the scant information that was provided and we had to update the location as to where the incident occurred based on the crime scene that we located,’ Superintendent Armitt said.
After searching the area where he was found, police deemed the location safe ‘and a further exclusion zone was established at a property along Shannonvale Road where the shooting is believed to have occurred’.
Acting Superintendent Tom Armitt said the parties involved met at the boundary line of their properties on Thursday morning
Mr and Mrs Schwarz, along with Graham Tighe, purchased the land last year – netting the previous owners a profit of almost $7million after holding onto the property for just three years.
Mrs Schwarz became a new grandmother just 18 months ago, sharing a photo of herself cradling the newborn with a beaming smile on her face.
Tragically, when word spread throughout the community of a shooting, several of Mrs Schwarz’ friends reached out via social media wishing her well.
‘Hope all are safe,’ one friend wrote on the notice, tagging Mrs Schwarz in her message.
Five people are currently assisting police with the early stages of the investigation to try and piece together what happened.
Multiple crime scenes were established throughout the small mining community of just 200 people and along Shannonvale Road.
Three members of the family were killed and another critically injured in the shooting in Bogie, near Bowen in north Queensland
TIMELINE OF BOGIE MASS SHOOTING
May 2021: The Schwarz family buy the 300-square-kilometre Bogie farm for $10million
Thursday, August 4, 2022
9am: Mervyn and Maree Schwarz, and Maree’s sons Graham and Ross Tighe meet neighbours at the boundary lines of their properties. An altercation occurs and all four are allegedly shot.
Ross escapes and makes it to a property several kilometres away where he raises the alarm.
10am: Queensland Police confirm they have sent units to a rural property following reports four people have been shot
11am: Police announce they have located one man some distance from the property and he is being treated for gunshot wounds
An emergency declaration is set up by police and members of the public are told to avoid the area
4pm: Police confirm three people have been found deceased at the Bogie property
Friday, August 5, 2022
7.15am: Queensland Police Acting Superintendent Tom Armitt announces the alleged gunman has been taken into custody
Forensic specialists will return to the scenes on Friday morning to continue examining the regions for clues.
Police revealed on Thursday afternoon the rugged terrain had proven difficult to navigate and would pose further challenges throughout the course of the investigation.
An emergency declaration at a Bogie cattle farm remains in place.
‘We continue to process the crime scene and police do not believe there is any ongoing danger to the public,’ a spokesman said.
Whitsunday Regional Councillor Jan Clifford said ‘everybody knows everyone else’ in their ‘little village’, adding the community would be ‘devastated’.
‘To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever happened in the Whitsunday region before.
‘We are all deeply saddened by the tragedy.’
A woman who works on Peter Delamothe Road, which connects Bogie to Bowen, earlier told Daily Mail Australia she saw several police cars racing towards scene of the shooting.
‘I saw at least three police cars while I was outside and heard a few more sirens after that,’ she said.
‘It’s not usually what you see. I thought straight away that something bad had happened.’
It is understood doctors and nurses with blood supplies and other medical resources were sent from Bowen Hospital to Collinsville Hospital – the closest facility to the shooting – to assist.
Up to eight ambulances were dispatched from as far as Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville.
Elly Colls, who works at Opal Ridge Motel, told The Guardian she learned of the incident at about 11am when someone rang to let them know there had been ‘a shooting at the Bogie’.
‘Better lock up the house,’ she said. ‘Cause I don’t think (they) found him.’
Other locals described the shooting as ‘unusual’ and ‘strange’ for the usually quiet area.
‘We’re traditional owners of this land around Collinsville. I wouldn’t have thought it could happen here. It’s a small town,’ one woman told The Courier Mail.
Another said: ‘The whole town is a bit rattled that something like that could happen here.’
‘We don’t know the full story, but we’ve definitely heard about it. It’s a small town, everyone knows everyone.
‘But out in ‘the boge’? Well, it’s tiny.’
A rescue helicopter has been sent to Bogie in rural Queensland after four people were injured in a shooting
HOW CRITICALLY INJURED FATHER WAS ABLE TO SOUND THE ALARM ABOUT MASS SHOOTING
It’s believed young father Ross Tighe alerted authorities to the critical situation while suffering a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
The injured man had been able to make his way to another home – which police said was ‘many, many kilometres away’ from where the shooting on a remote property took place – and contacted the authorities.
He was flown to Mackay Base Hospital to undergo emergency surgery and is now in intensive care in a serious but stable condition.
‘He was able to tell police that he had been shot and three others (were) also shot,’ Inspector Armitt said.
‘We believe the male was able to extract himself from the area. He was fleeing from the scene.’
‘Originally, when the male person spoke to us, he was obviously in a very distressed state and there was some confusion about where the shooting had occurred.
‘We were able to conduct searches ourselves based on the scant information that was provided and we had to update the location as to where the incident occurred based on the crime scene that we located.’
After searching the area where the injured man was found, police deemed the location safe ‘and a further exclusion zone was established at a property along Shannonvale Road where the shooting is believed to have occurred’.
The shooting took place on a sprawling cattle property which is ‘rural, remote, very hilly and heavily forested’.
‘It has taken a number of hours for police to search and clear the area, however we have declared a crime scene in the remote rural location where we believe we have located three deceased persons,’ Inspector Armitt said.
An emergency declaration for the area was issued at around 11.30am.
‘Investigations remain ongoing into the circumstances leading up to the shooting,’ the police said.
‘Police are currently conducting emergency operations in the area and requesting members of the public and aircraft to not attend the declared location.’
Police are clearing the ‘extensive’ property and will remain in place ‘as long as we need to do our job’, Acting Superintendent Armitt said.
Though there are no other people living in the exclusion zone, the police have urged everyone to avoid the area.
A helicopter is seen at the scene of a mass shooting in rural Queensland where three people were shot dead