A New South Wales Police Force employee has been shot dead outside the Parramatta police headquarters building in Western Sydney. The suspect, said to be a man of Middle Eastern appearance dressed in black, was subsequently shot dead by special constables protecting the entrance. The shooting took place outside the headquarters building and across the road from a daycare center used by the children of New South Wales Police Force families. It has been confirmed that there have been no injuries other than the shooter and his victim and that everybody else in the area is safe.
Police have confirmed that the shooter was a 15 year old radicalised youth. He reportedly shouted “religious slogans” before shooting the victim in the back of the head. He then remained in the area “behaving aggressively” until he was shot dead by special constables who were guarding the entrance the of the building.
An unnamed police source has told the Sydney Morning Herald that there had been “increased chatter” indicating that an attack on the building was possible. The source said that all New South Wales Police officers had been ordered to carry their sidearms at all times. Official police statements, however, suggested that the alert was routine and that there was no specific advance intelligence.
The attack took place at 4:30 p.m. local time (2:30 a.m. EST) and ambulance officers were called five minutes later.
Addressing the media, New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione was at pains to point out that the police are not ruling out terrorism, but at this stage had no reason to believe that any connection to terrorism existed. When asked if he thought that the officer was targeted, Commissioner Scipione said “yes,” saying that, from his viewing of the footage, it was clear that the deceased officer was targeted.
“This is a homicide investigation.”
Commissioner Scipione said that investigations were continuing, with officers from several squads co-operating to investigate the incident. The Commissioner was adamant that there was no reason for the public to be concerned, saying that the perpetrator was dead and that any risk to the community was over.
“The community is safe. People should go about their business as if this incident hadn’t happened.”
Commissioner Scipione praised the conduct and professionalism of the officers who responded to the incident, saying that the New South Wales Police force was a formidable and dedicated group who could be relied upon to react to any situation calmly and professionally.
“Anyone who thinks that they are in the business of… injuring members of the New South Wales Police will get the full force of the law.”
Many on social media have been quick to decide that this incident must be a terrorist act, but Commissioner Scipione refused to countenance any such assumptions. When pressed by the media, he offered the suggestion that “there are some people who want to commit suicide by cop.”
The officer involved could not be named as the Commissioner confirmed that next of kin had yet to be notified.
The building where the shooting took place is home to the New South Wales Police Force State Crime Command, and houses detectives from some of the state’s most high profile squads, including drug, homicide, and Middle Eastern organized crime squads.
In a press conference this morning, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione was able to confirm the identity of the victim as one Curtis Cheng. Mr Cheng was a member of the NSW Police finance department and had been working for the force for 17 years. Commissioner Scipione said that Mr Cheng was a “much-loved” man, popular and well regarded throughout the force. Further details emerged about the shooter as well. It was reported at the same press conference that the 15 year old shooter was of Iraqi/Kurdish origin and had been born in Iran. He was a local resident of the Parramatta area (where the shooting took place) and was not known to police either through criminal history or as a target of surveillance, according to the Commissioner.
Commissioner Scipione was tight-lipped about details, but he was also able to confirm that at this early stage of the investigation, police were satisfied that the young shooter was “radicalised” and that the crime was “politically motivated.” Under NSW criminal law, any violence judged to be politically motivated is legally defined as terrorism and treated as such. Commissioner Scipione also suggested that there would be additional security provisions taken at the two football grand finals this weekend, but would not go into detail for security reasons.
NSW Premier Mike Baird joined the Police commissioner in his praise of victim Curtis Cheng. He further urged the people of New South Wales to “come together” and to “go one with [their] lives.” Premier Baird said that it was vitally important that the people of NSW not allow acts like these to disrupt the pattern of everyday life.
[Images via Youtube]