A shocking incident that saw two police officers and a member of the public callously murdered in a remote Australian town, has been declared a religiously-motivated terrorist attack.
An investigation into the tragic event that occurred in Queensland in December 2022 concluded that the two constables were initially shot and then blasted again “execution-style”, while a neighbour was murderously struck in the back when arriving on the scene to offer his help.
Two other officers managed to get away and call for assistance, but not before one was shot and injured and the other terrorised by the three assassins, who carried out what the enquiry found to be premeditated attacks, with “significant evidence” uncovered of advanced preparation and planning.
All three subscribed to Christian extremist ideology which operated a fundamentalist belief system known as “pre-millennialism”, which targeted police. After a lengthy stand off the three suspects were all shot dead by specialist armed officers.
Murderous trio all related
The three killers were brothers, 47-year-old Gareth and 46-year-old Nathaniel Train, along with 45-year-old Stacey Train, who had at different times been married to each man. The property that the police were lured to was owned by Gareth and Stacey and had been set up with camouflaged hideouts, barriers, dirt mounts, guns, knives, CCTV and mirrors on trees.
Police chief confirms extremism links
Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Tracey Lindford confirmed that their investigation had found that the Trains “acted as an autonomous cell” and had “executed a religiously-motivated terrorist attack.” She went on to explain that the Trains had been linked to extremist individuals in the United States and that within their Christian extremist ideology they referenced police as amongst other descriptions: “monsters, demons and evil”.
Ms Lindford said the group had been linked to other attacks around the world, but that this was the first time it had found its way in to Australia.
Routine visit to check on missing person
It was in the middle of the afternoon on 12 December when four junior police officers from two different local stations, went for a routine visit to a rural inland property, in a remote area called Wieambilla. about 270km (168 miles) west of Brisbane. They were checking on Nathaniel Train who had been reported missing in New South Wales.
Hail of bullets takes two officers down
They met up on a dirt road outside the property before heading up its long driveway. After leaving their cars and approaching the house, they were suddenly on the receiving end of a hail of bullets, and two of the young constables: 26-year-old Matthew Arnold, and 29-year-old Rachel McCrow were hit immediately.
A third officer, 28-year-old Keely Brough, who was a complete rookie having only been sworn in a couple of weeks before, ran to find cover in the nearby bush; whilst the fourth, Randall Kirk, also 28-years-old, retreated to his vehicle, suffering a shot to his leg on the way.
Executed in cold blood
Then it appears that the crazed shooters approached Matthew and Rachel as they lay wounded on the ground and in cold blood, mercilessly shot the two again, killing them both in an execution style scenario. Officer Kirk was able to call for assistance, but before they could arrive, the killing trio set fire to the extensive bush in an attempt to flush a terrified Officer Brough out into the open.
Kind-hearted neighbour ruthlessly murdered
Hearing the shots and seeing the smoke, concerned neighbour 58-year-old Alan Dare, turned up at the property to offer his help, fearing an accident had occurred, but his kind hearted move cost him his life as he too was savagely shot, and in the back, suggesting he was probably retreating before receiving his fatal wound.
Suspects shot after stand-off
A unit of specially trained armed response officers arrived soon after and after something of a stand-off, a decision was taken to move in and all three suspects were shot dead.
Commissioner pays tribute to fallen officers
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll visited the crime scene and said she could see that her two murdered officers “did not stand a chance” and was thankful that the other two got out alive, which she remarked was “a miracle”.
Paying tribute to Mr Arnold and Ms McCrow, the commissioner stated that although they were relatively new to the police force, they were much loved by their colleagues. She continued: “Both under 30 years of age and both had wonderful careers and lives ahead of them.”
Sister’s heartache for caring brother
Mr Dare’s sister Robynne, still shocked at the event and circumstances of her brother’s death spoke of his “wonderful caring nature” and made the point that: “Al would go out of his way to help whoever he could.”
Officers making good recovery
Constable Brough spent some time in hospital and Constable Kirk required surgery for his leg wound, but both are said to be recovering well, and typically concentrated on the families of their two lost colleagues, saying their thoughts were with them.
Who were the vicious killers?
Gareth and Stacey Train co-owned the property that the officers had been sent to check up on the whereabouts of Nathaniel Train, who was a former school principal and was a missing person. Gareth Train had bragged in posts about threatening police, and was convinced that the country’s deadliest mass shooting, when 35 people were killed by a lone gunman at Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996, was a government ploy to disarm Australians.
Nathaniel Train had been a mild-mannered, highly respected teacher, who it transpired had left the profession last year, as a result of suffering a heart attack when at his desk. His former wife Stacey Train was also a senior teacher, but she left in 2021.
Radicalised to worst possible extreme
They would seem to have been radicalised at some point, possibly one influencing the other two, but seemingly conspiracy theories and misinformation has caused relatively normal people to lose all sense of reason, and turned them into crazed killers with no regard for human life.
Father tells of son’s obsession with weapons
The father of the disturbed brothers, Ronald Train, said that his sons had “completely lost their way in life” and been cut off from the rest of the family for around 20 years. He insisted that they were not “monsters”, and they had been raised with Christian beliefs; not something he would be advised to repeat in front of any of the families of their tragic victims.
He went on to reference that the pair had been interested in weapons since they were very young. “Gareth in particular was obsessed, with Nathaniel to a lesser degree,” he said. Before describing his oldest boy Gareth as a “difficult” child who was “very volatile and controlling.”
Mental health not a contributing factor
Deputy Commissioner Lindford said there did not seem to be one catalyst for the trio’s extremism, but Nathaniel’s heart attack was she understood “a profound moment for him and his belief in God.”
Additionally, Gareth and Stacey losing their jobs due to Covid-19 vaccine mandates also increased their anti-government views.
She did however rule out mental health as a contributing factor, although she did admit that it was considered by the investigating team. If it had been just the one person then it would have remained a possibility, but with three involved then the chances are slim. Some might argue that being radicalised to such an extreme is an indication of individuals mental health being affected, but that is probably a separate argument.
Coroner to make final determination
The final and conclusive determinations of this horrific incident will be made during a forthcoming coronial inquiry, although motive is unlikely to be established; only the harsh facts of how three decent people lost their lives, and how three others had their lives taken for being responsible for those senseless deaths.