A 59-year-old man has been charged with three counts of murder following the horrific mass shooting on remote farmland in Queensland.
The accused, identified by The Courier-Mail as long-term Bogie resident Darryl Young, is also facing one charge of attempted murder.
He will appear in the Proserpine Magistrates Court on Monday.
Mervyn and Maree Schwarz and her son Graham Tighe were killed in Bogie on Thursday.
Ross Tighe – Graham’s brother – survived the shooting and is currently in hospital after being shot in the stomach.
Police allege the weapon used in the shooting was a rifle.
“It will be alleged that around 9am, police received a report that three people had been fatally shot at a property on Shannonvale Road and another man had suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen,” the police said in a statement.
“The injured man remains in Mackay Base Hospital in a stable condition with a single gunshot wound to the stomach.”
“How it happened in this day and age is beyond me. It’s not America,” Maree Schwarz’s brother-in-law, Greg Austin, told The Daily Mail.
Mr Austen said he was completely shocked when he heard the news, describing his loved ones as an “honest Christian family”.
“They were a bush family who worked seven days a week and had beers on Sundays, participated in events, very community-minded and well-respected in the community. Just a normal Australian family,” he said.
Mr Austen told news.com.au he learned of the shooting through “dribs and drabs” from the rest of his family.
“I have sisters and that over there, or on their way there, and it was just what we were hearing from them. They obviously were talking to the police, and we just got information from them when we could,” he said.
And in a tragic detail, Mr Austen revealed Graham Tighe had only spent three days with his newborn son before the shooting. The baby had just come home after three weeks in hospital in Brisbane.
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How the situation unfolded
Emergency crews were called to a property in Bogie – a small outback mining town in the Whitsundays near Collinsville – at 8.54am on Thursday.
Three people were confirmed deceased after police were notified of reports that multiple people had been shot in the area.
After finding the sole survivor, Ross, in a vehicle at Flagstone, an emergency declaration was made at 11.30am under the Public Safety Preservation Act, with boundaries encompassing Sutherland Rd, Normanby Rd, Mount Compton Rd and Starvation Creek.
This emergency declaration has since been revoked.
Police revealed Ross managed to alert police to the shooting after escaping the scene and miraculously travelling “many, many kilometres” while suffering from a gunshot wound.
“We believe that the male was able to extract himself from the area when he was spoken to by a police officer many, many kilometres away from the crime scene,” Queensland Police Acting Superintendent Tom Armitt said on Thursday.
“He was fleeing from the scene … he was able to tell police that he had been shot and three others (were) also shot.”
Police said he fled the scene in a red ute before contacting the authorities.
Mr Austen told the Daily Mail that his nephew-in-law showed incredible courage, describing him as a “very strong man”.
“Ross has two girls, but he’s OK. I haven’t spoke to him yet because he’s about three hours away, but we’re heading there,” he said.
“To witness what unfolded in front of him and then to be able to walk back to the car shows real resilience, and I’m sure he won’t forget it for the rest of his life.”
He was flown to Mackay Hospital in a critical condition and rushed into emergency surgery.
He is now in a serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit.
Police were able to interview him on Thursday night and are expected to speak with him again today.
Speaking to Sunrise on Friday morning, Acting Superintendent Armitt said police “believe” they have the alleged shooter in custody.
“The person who has been nominated for that offence is with us here in custody,” he said.
“We haven’t pressed any charges at this point in time while our investigations are ongoing.”
Police spoke to five people on Thursday night in relation to the shooting.
Two of the people who were spoken to by police were reportedly wind farm contractors who happened to be near the property at the wrong time. They were released on Thursday night.
Two other people, family members of the 59-year-old man still in custody, have also now been released.
The man still in custody was located by police on the property following the shooting.
“At that particular point in time when we initially received the call we had no idea who or where the shooting offender was and obviously we had to push forward into the scene being very mindful of our own safety and at the risk of police officers being shot,” Acting Superintendent Armitt told reporters on Friday.
“We were able to make contact with the people on the property and organise taking them into custody.”
$10m property and neighbourhood dispute in the spotlight
An alleged neighbourhood dispute is forming a major part of investigations, with Acting Superintendent Armitt revealing parties involved in the event were neighbours.
Mr and Mrs Schwarz, along with Graham, had only purchased the 300-square-kilometre property in May 2021, according to the Daily Mail.
They paid $10 million for the land, which is zoned for cattle grazing, breeding and farming purposes.
Acting Superintendent Armitt also appeared on Nine’s Today show on Friday, providing some more detail on the alleged neighbourhood dispute.
“There is not too much detail I can tell you right now. What we do know is that the parties involved are neighbours and 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,” he said.
Later on Friday, the Acting Superintendent provided some further insight on the layout of the properties in the area, revealing the scene of the shooting was an hour-and-a-half away from Collinsville in a very remote area.
“We are talking properties of the size of tens of thousands of acres and between the two properties in question it’s actually a 45 minute drive between the neighbours,” he explained.
“At the crime scene, which is at the front gate of one of the promises, it is a 3km drive between the gate and the house at that location.”
Mike Brunker from the Whitsunday Regional Council told Sunrise the family moved to the area from out west, describing the situation as “absolutely tragic”.
“The road leading up to that particular property, there’s some small boutique rural residential areas and then, of course, at the end of the road is the cattle properties that we’re talking about,” he said.
“I think these people had only moved over here 12 months ago from out west.”
‘It’s shocking’: Town rattled by horror shooting
Mr Brunker said a tragic event like this is the last thing Bogie community would ever think it would make national news for.
According to the latest census data, Bogie has a population of just 207 people, making it an extremely tight knit community.
Locals from nearby Bowen and Collinsville described the incident as “unusual” and “strange” for the usually quiet area.
“There haven’t been many shootings there (Bogie) before … it’s very unusual,” a business owner in Collinsville said.
Bowen resident Shontai McLennan told the Daily Mercury that the situation came as a complete shock to many.
“We’re traditional owners of this land around Collinsville. I wouldn’t have thought it could happen here. It’s a small town,” she said.
Redcliffe man Warren Davidson told the publication he had seen multiple emergency vehicles racing along the road as he was on his way to Bowen from Ingham.
“Then we heard it on the CB radio that there’d been a shooting. It’s pretty shocking,” he said.