‘First he was shooting on the other side … then a close range shot, boom’
FOUR men are dead and a woman is being treated for gunshot wounds to her legs this morning after the worst mass killing in the Northern Territory in 30 years.
In an hour long rampage through the streets of Darwin, the alleged shooter, who is now in police custody, gunned down the four other men apparently in cold blood before turning himself in.
Police said the killing spree began when the shooter claimed his first victim at the Palms Hotel in Finniss St, just as residents were settling in for the evening at about 5.45pm.
Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots before the shooter - described by police as a caucasian man wearing high-vis workwear - emerged from behind the motel with what looked like a high-powered, pump-action shotgun.
"First he was shooting on the other side about seven shots, bang, bang and then a close range shot boom," one witness said.
"Then he came up those stairs and then he went straight for that door and blew up the door about two times and then he had another shot inside."
From there, the shooter made his way to three other locations around Darwin, the Buff Club - where police last night stood watch over one of the slain men while drinkers continued their evening inside - then to Gardens Hill Cres in The Gardens and Jolly St in Woolner.
A fifth crime scene was later established at police headquarters in Berrimah, where it is believed the gunman tried to gain entry for reasons which last night remained unclear. Police said he may have been attempting to hand himself in.
At the address in Jolly St a third man lay dead after the armed man burst into his house and gunned him down without warning.
The fourth man was killed in The Gardens where the woman was also shot multiple times before bystanders tended to her injuries which were later treated in hospital.
Then just an hour after it began, the carnage was over when police say the man contacted Duty Superintendent Lee Morgan, whose decades of experience in Territory policing allowed him to talk him down from his massacre.
He was then arrested by tactical police outside the Coles Express on Daly St.
They surrounded his car in the middle of an intersection before he was tasered.
The, shirtless man writhed on the ground screaming as a number of officers moved to restrain him.
"About an hour later we've been able to apprehend him after he did make contact with our duty superintendent who did a magnificent job of negotiating with him and subsequently alerting police to his location," Commissioner Reece Kershaw said.
"He asked to be placed into protective custody, which we did." Mr Kershaw said the shooter, who remained under guard in hospital last night, was "well known to police" and while he would not speculate on his motivations, police did not believe the violence was terror related.
The gunman was on parole and wearing an ankle monitor at the time of the massacre.
Mr Kershaw said he was not aware whether the man arrested was part of a bikie gang but said he "may have associated with those entities".
Mr Kershaw would not say whether the man was using drugs or alcohol during the evening, but did say he would be undergoing a number of tests while in hospital.
While sections of Darwin remained on lockdown until late into the evening, Mr Kershaw said the city was safe.
"We responded very quickly and within the hour we were able to apprehend and take that person safely into custody so I want to reassure the public that the safety of our community comes first for our officers," he said. "We're here to serve and protect and that's what we did this evening."
Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Prime Minister Scott Morrison were last night united in condemning the senseless loss of life on Darwin's streets.
"Five crime scenes, four people deceased, one injured. This is not he Darwin we know," Mr Gunner said.
"On behalf of Territorians, our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims, and everybody else who has been impacted."
Speaking from London, Mr Morrison extended his condolences for the "terrible act of violence". "I want to extend my deep condolences and sympathies to all the people in the NT and particularly in Darwin," he said
"This is a very tight community and I know they will be rocked by these events."