Gunman In Custody After Canberra Airport Shooting

By Staff Writer.

A 63-year-old man will appear before the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday morning after a shooting incident at Canberra Airport on Sunday afternoon. The lone gunman fired five shots from inside the terminal towards the glass windows. No one was injured, but the incident caused panic and saw flights grounded for several hours.

ACT Police allege that the man arrived at Canberra Airport at approximately 1.20 pm and sat on seats near the southern check-in desks on the first floor. At about 1.25 pm, he drew a firearm and fired several shots into the terminal’s windows.

“After approximately five minutes, this male has removed the firearm from his possession and let off approximately five rounds,” ACT Policing Detective Acting Superintendent Dave Craft told a media conference on Sunday. “There were no shots directed at people, customers, or staff. We have no idea of any motivation.”

Over three million passengers annually use the airport that serves Australia’s national capital and usually sees substantial numbers of politicians, public servants, and media figures pass through on Sunday afternoon ahead of the working week.

Multiple aircraft with passengers onboard were on the airport apron when the shooting occurred. Those planes remained on the ground, and normal flight operations did not resume until around 5.00 pm.

Virgin Australia and Qantas each subsequently cancelled a flight to Canberra while five outbound and four inbound flights across four airlines were delayed.

“I saw the glass falling down, and I thought maybe the glass had exploded,” a man inside the terminal told the media. “Everyone ran for their lives. I didn’t think it was a bullet at first. Then I heard everyone running, and I ran.”

“Canberra Airport was evacuated, and members of ACT Policing and AFP Airport Police worked in partnership to secure the area – including confirming the man was acting alone,” says an ACT Police statement. “He was transported to the ACT Watch House, and an investigation commenced.”

Several hundred passengers were inside the airport terminal at the time. There are reports of chaotic scenes as passengers hid behind counters or rushed for the doors. Police stationed at the airport quickly apprehended the gunman, who surrendered peacefully.

Footage posted online on Sunday show the man handcuffed on the terminal floor between banks of chairs while one policeman searches him, with two other policemen standing nearby with their firearms aimed at the shooter.

Police note the shooting occurred on the terminal’s landside area before passengers pass through any security checks. Shooting incidents in airports in other countries do occur, including the 2016 Ataturk Airport terminal attack in Turkey that killed 41 people. However, incidents such as Sunday’s are unheard of in Australia, where non-travellers can readily access the landside areas of airports without any security or identification checks.

ACT Police on Monday morning said they’d charged the unnamed shooter with discharging a firearm at a building, unlawful possession of a firearm and discharging a firearm near a person causing alarm. Police are opposing bail.


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