Police killers were ‘mild-mannered’ school principal and a conspiracy theorist

Inside Queensland shooter Nathaniel Train's past

Source: Twitter/Annastacia Palaszczuk

Questions are swirling about why a “mild-mannered” former school principal went missing and reappeared at the centre of a “barbaric” police shooting that has shocked the nation.

Nathaniel Train had worked in various Queensland schools before his last post as principal of the local primary school in Walgett, NSW, until August 2021.

Mr Train, 46, was last seen at his home in Dubbo in December 2021. However, it is believed he had remained in contact with family members until early October this year.

On December 4, NSW police launched an appeal for public assistance to locate him after a request from his family.

“Police and family hold serious concerns for Nathaniel’s welfare,” they said in a notice issued last Wednesday.

Mr Train was described as being of Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander appearance, about 183 centimetres tall, with a thin build and a long, grey beard. He was known to always wear brown boots.

A newspaper article in the Cairns Post in 2017 shows Mr Train was once principal of Yorkeys Knob State School in far north Queensland. In the story, he was referred to as a “mild-mannered school leader”.

The accompanying photo shows students decorating his long beard with Christmas tinsel and baubles to raise money for the P&C.

“Mr Train good-naturedly agreed to be bedecked in festive finery, and stay that way until the final school bell,” the article stated.

wieambilla shooting

Nathaniel Train died in the shootout, alongside his brother Gareth and wife Stacey. Photo: NSW Police

Mr Train, along with his brother Gareth and Gareth’s wife Stacey, died in a shootout with police on a remote Queensland property at Wieambilla on Monday night.

The property about 270 kilometres west of Brisbane was owned by Gareth, 47, and Stacey Train, 45. Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said it was home to “a lot of ammunition and weaponry”.

All three are considered offenders actively involved in Monday’s deadly ambush.

The Guardian reports Gareth Train appeared to be a prolific member of an online conspiracy website, where he made regular bizarre posts.

In one recent comment he wrote that he had been “ark homesteading for the past five years preparing to survive tomorrow”.

“When it becomes clear that we are in a time like no other and you head out into the wilderness to escape persecution, know that my wife and I will offer refuge to all brothers and sisters,” he posted, according to The Guardian.

“I will be scanning the UHF channels when that times comes.”

Of the massacre at Port Arthur in 1996 – when gunman Martin Bryant killed 35 people – Gareth Train wrote that it was a “false flag” operation to “disarm the Australian population”.

Police sources have confirmed the Train brothers were shot dead in a firefight with heavily armed tactical officers at Wains Road in Wieambilla on Monday night.

Earlier in the day, Nathaniel and Gareth allegedly gunned down police constables Matthew Arnold, 26, and Rachel McCrow, 29, who were there to look for the missing school teacher.

Neighbour Alan Dare, 58, who went to the scene following the disturbance, was also fatally shot.

Constable Matthew Arnold (left) and Constable Rachel McCrow were killed in the ambush. Photo: AAP

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said officers were sent to the rural property to “check on that missing person”.

“I understand from my brief that that person had been missing from up to about 12 months but people had been in contact with him,” she said on Tuesday.

“That request was given to the local police to go to this address to check on that missing person.”

On Tuesday, an emotional Ms Carroll said the officers “never stood a chance”.

“The fact that two got out alive is a miracle,” she said.

“To think they survived the scene, let alone … called for assistance, is just extraordinary.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the police killings as “barbaric” amid a national outpouring of grief for the two young constables and Mr Dare.

“All Australians are shocked and saddened by this tragic loss of life,” he said.

“Three lives cruelly cut short. This is, indeed, a devastating day for everyone who loved these Australians. And our hearts go out to those in the grip of terrible grief.

“Today is a rough day indeed for all police officers and their families.”

Constables Arnold and McCrow were confronted by a “hail of gunshots” after jumping a fence at the Wieambilla property on Monday afternoon. The pair were shot and fell to the ground, before being “executed in cold blood” by the camouflage-clad Trains.

Two of the young officers’ colleagues took cover behind them. They were constables Keeley Brough and Randall Kirk, both 28.

Constable Kirk eventually managed to flee and raise the alarm.

Tributes left for police at Tara police station. Photo: AAP

Constable Brough, who had been a police officer for just eight weeks, hid in the property’s long grass. The Trains allegedly lit a fire to try to force her out into the open, police union boss Ian Leavers said

“She actually believed that she was either going to be shot or she was going to be burnt alive,” he said.

“A member of the public, a neighbour, he went to investigate the burning grass and he was shot in the back in cold blood as well.”

A terrified Constable Brough reportedly texted family members as she lay in hidding.

“I know she was sending messages to loved ones saying she was at a point where she thought it was her time,” Mr Leavers said.

Constables Brough and Kirk were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries late on Monday. Constable Brough has since been released, while Constable Kirk is still being treated.

-with AAP

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