Weapon access investigation after woman fatally shot

Fraser Barton |

Police will investigate how a man who had his weapons licence revoked three years ago gained access to a firearm before allegedly shooting dead a woman in front of two children.

A 31-year-old man has been charged with murder after being accused of fatally shooting a neighbour taking children to a sporting activity before firing at a good Samaritan.

He was arrested late on Wednesday, ending an hours-long man hunt in north Queensland.

Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said authorities were aware of the man prior to the “terrible act of violence” in Mackay.

“That’s a horrid situation,” he said.

“A life has been lost in front of her children by a really terrible act of violence by the offender and another person has been seriously injured.”

Queensland Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski
Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski described the shooting as a “terrible act of violence”. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Gollschewski said the accused previously had a weapons licence but it was revoked in 2021, with 11 firearms subsequently taken from him.

“That was as a result of his conduct and other charges that he’d faced that the weapons were removed from him and the licence was revoked,” he said.

“We’ll look really closely not only at what occurred yesterday, but the lead-up to that in terms of his access to weapons and how he might have got that weapon.”

Mr Gollschewski said additional powers were being sought via a firearms prohibition scheme before state parliament to thwart similar incidents happening.

The 31-year-old man allegedly approached his neighbour who was sitting in a vehicle parked outside before shooting her on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman was in the car with her 11-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old friend.

“They were heading out to some sort of sporting activity,” Detective Acting Superintendent Emma Novosel told reporters on Thursday.

The 34-year-old woman died at the scene, with the two children fleeing the vehicle.

“It’s obviously a tragic incident where two young girls have witnessed a violent death of …(a) mother,” Supt Novosel said.

“I want to acknowledge and commend their bravery for actually managing to remove themselves from such a dangerous situation and raise the alarm.

“It’s incredibly brave and I can’t even begin to imagine the trauma that they must be experiencing.”

Another neighbour – a 66-year-old man – was allegedly shot when he came to the woman’s aid and approached the 31-year-old, suffering hand and chest injuries.

He remains in the Mackay Base Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Streets were locked down and a manhunt was launched.

The 31-year-old was arrested outside a service station hours later.

Supt Novosel said the 31-year-old man and the woman were not known to each other but lived on the same street.

A motive for the incident is still unknown.

The 31-year-old man has been charged with murder and attempted murder.

He was set to appear in Mackay Magistrates Court on Thursday.