TENSE: Thick fog blanketed the Laguna property during the eight-hour standoff, allowing two cornered police officers to escape after allegedly being shot at. Picture: 9 News.WHEN the first two police officers were called to reports of shots being fired at a remote Hunter property late on Tuesdaynight, they put on their bullet-proof vests before walking towards the front door to investigate.
A caretaker had already reported that a couple, with former links to the Laguna property, had arrived unannounced about 10pm and allegedly threatened to shoot him before he was able to escape into bushland and raise the alarm.
And as the two general duties officers neared the front door, they were also allegedly confronted by a gunman and his rifle.
Police will allege the gunman fired several shots towards the police as they attempted to escape, at least one of them tripping over before taking refuge by lying down in wet and cold bushland as they called for reinforcements.
And for the next four hours, as more shots were allegedly fired towards them, they waited until some low lying fog and the help of other heavily-armed police allowed for their escape.
They did not return fire.
The extraordinary tale emerged on Wednesdayfollowing the end of a tense eight-hour siege at the homestead, where heavily armed specialist officers from the tactical operations unit along with an armoured “Bearcat” were called from Sydney to help.
It included the Bearcat being used to drive onto the property –and pushing aside the abandoned police car belonging to the first officer on scene which remained parked in the driveway.
The operation also included scores of police from Central Hunter, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens commands as well as specialist police.
“It was an extremely dangerous operation for the initial responding officers and they did an exceptional job in assuring their own safety while still securing the premises,’’ Central Hunter crime manager Detective Inspector George Radmore said.
“In cold and difficult circumstances, in an isolated environment and with poor communications they were able to keep themselves safe and lockdown the premises until reinforcements arrived.’’
The alleged gunman, a 46-year-old from nearby Martinsville, was arrested about 6.30am and taken into custody after hours of communication with negotiators.
He was expected to be charged on Wednesdaynight with a range of firearm and violence offences and would face court on Thursday.
His partner, who has close links to the house, was also expected to be charged.
Police allegedly seized two firearms at the Laguna property and had conducted a search warrant at the couple’s property at Martinsville.