Emergency services at the scene on Russell Island. Picture: Supplied/Robyn Kingston/Facebook
Emergency services at the scene on Russell Island. Picture: Supplied/Robyn Kingston/Facebook

'Misunderstood' man lunged at cops before fatal shooting

Shocked neighbours say an "erratic" man lunged at police through the flames of a fire he'd lit before he was shot dead by officers on Russell Island, off southeast Queensland, in an incident that has left the officers traumatised.

It's believed the man, who police say was in his 30s, was shot after coming at officers with a machete about 9.15am.

A male constable in his second year of service fired at least two shots, The Courier-Mail understands.

Paramedics treated the man for critical injuries and requested the rescue helicopter, however he died at the scene.

Police and emergency services at the crime scene. Picture, John Gass
Police and emergency services at the crime scene. Picture, John Gass

Russell Island resident Emma-Jane Smith said she had known the deceased man for years through an autism group in New Zealand.

She said the man was not close with his family and she and her family were his closest contacts.

"He would never attack anyone," Ms Smith said.

"He was a kind man, he had Asperger's, which is high-functioning autism, so lots of people misunderstand people with autism.

"He shouldn't have been shot, it's ridiculous.

A neighbour said the man was destroying his own house before police arrived.

She said the man smashed windows and lit a fire under the house.

"He was having an episode and he wanted the police there," she said.

"He was like a gazelle, he lunged at them through the fire.

"What could they do? He ran at them, they had to shoot him. End of story."

The house in Ranora St, Russell Island. Picture, John Gass
The house in Ranora St, Russell Island. Picture, John Gass

Another neighbour who also did not want to be named said she heard yelling before police raced to the scene.

"They came roaring up the road - I'd never seen them drive like that," she said.

"It all happened so quick. He had something in his hand and then it was bang, bang, bang - three shots."

Police investigate at the scene. Picture, John Gass
Police investigate at the scene. Picture, John Gass

A third neighbour said the man was smashing windows and lit a fire underneath his home in the hours leading up to the shooting.

"He started about 7.30 or 8 o'clock this morning," a neighbour, who did not want to be identified, said.

"He was pretty erratic; he was smashing glass, he lit a fire underneath the house.

"We were too scared to go outside so a neighbour rang the police.

Police and emergency services at the crime scene in Ranora St, Russell Island. Picture, John Gass
Police and emergency services at the crime scene in Ranora St, Russell Island. Picture, John Gass

Superintendent Pilotto said: "These officers are obviously traumatised."

"We've had to bring from the mainland all of our investigative resources.

"The officers were in fear of their life … which is why they employed deadly force."

The man is understood to rent a property on Ranora Ave and lives there alone.

One of the neighbours said this was the first violent outburst she had observed from the man.

"He did yell at one man who was working in his back garden, he said 'what the eff are you looking at' so the fella went back inside his house, nobody wanted to take him on," the neighbour said.

Queensland Police Union President Ian Leavers said the man was carrying an axe within the house, but grabbed a machete and lunged at the two officers outside.

The constable attended the scene with a female sergeant who is the officer-in-charge at Russell Island station.

"When the man advanced to the police officer he had a machete," Mr Leavers said.

"He had no other alternative other than to use his firearm.

"It all happened very quickly and his options were very limited.

"Police did all that possibly could in the short time frames they had today."

The officers were wearing body cameras, which recorded the entire incident.

"It is a police officer's worse nightmare to have to use their weapon," Mr Leavers said.

"Physically they are OK but they are being supported. They'll carry the mental scare forever in a day."

A Queensland Police spokesman earlier confirmed police had shot a man in an incident on the island, which is about 40km southeast of Brisbane.

"Just before 9am police were called to a disturbance on Ranora Ave," he said.

"A crime scene has been declared and senior police are en route to the island."


New playground helps outdoor education thrive

Premium Content New playground helps outdoor education thrive

A newly opened playground at a Coast kindergarten will continue an outdoor...

Lightning would never stop Daniel’s day

Premium Content Lightning would never stop Daniel’s day

Whether it’s COVID-19 or a lightning strike, nothing stopped the Walk for Daniel.

REPLAY: Palaszczuk v Frecklington in final debate

REPLAY: Palaszczuk v Frecklington in final debate

Annastacia Palaszczuk v Deb Frecklington in final election debate