Constables Matthew Arnold and Rachel McCrow (file image)
Constables Matthew Arnold and Rachel McCrow were wounded then fatally shot at close range. Image by PR HANDOUT IMAGE PHOTO
  • crime, law and justice

Police pause to reflect a year on from ‘evil’ killings

Cassandra Morgan December 12, 2023

Exactly a year since two young constables were gunned down in cold blood on a rural Queensland property a special message was relayed police radios. 

In a first, the statewide police broadcast at about 4.40pm on Tuesday called on officers to collectively pause and remember Matthew Arnold, 26, and Rachel McCrow, 29.

On a routine check they had just jumped a fence at a property at Wieambilla, west of Brisbane, when Nathaniel, Gareth and Stacey Train opened fire and killed them.

“No matter where you are right now, we remember how privileged we are as an organisation to have known two such compassionate and dedicated members in our ranks,” the message said.

“Today our thoughts remain with their families, friends and colleagues.”

Then, police radios fell silent for a minute.

Family members representing the McCrow and Arnold family.
 Family members representing the McCrow and Arnold family attended an anniversary memorial service. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

Tuesday marked a day of grief for the Queensland policing community as they mourned the loss of the two officers whose families were approaching another Christmas without them.

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll was sombre as she saluted her fallen colleagues at a wreath-laying ceremony in Brisbane, while deputy premier Steven Miles put his hand on his heart after he laid a wreath in memory of the officers.

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll and union head Ian Leavers.
 Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll and police union head Ian Leavers at the memorial service. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

The two officers – along with neighbour Alan Dare – were shot dead before the Trains were killed in a gunfight with specialist police on the night of December 12, 2022.

Const McCrow’s sister recently gave birth to a boy – a nephew she would never meet, while Const Arnold was a triplet and his family was still grappling with his death, Queensland Police Union President Ian Leavers said.

“That gut-wrenching pain, which all of us felt on that day, will never, ever be forgotten,” Mr Leavers said. 

“The way that they were callously executed in cold blood has resonated with every police officer in Queensland because they know it didn’t have to occur, it should never have occurred, but it could have been any one of them, just responding to a call for service.”

A year on from the killings, the police union was adamant it would one day acquire the Wieambilla property so it could never again “be used for evil”.

Queensland police
 Police radios fell silent for a minute to mark one year since the fatal shootings. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS 

The Arnold family released a statement saying December 12 marked a day of “incomprehensible evil”.

“We miss Matt’s laugh, kindness, empathy and willingness to help,” they said in a statement released by Queensland Police.

“These traits were what made him such an excellent police officer and made him love his job.”

The family also paid tribute to the bravery and courage of Const McCrow.

“We will forever stand with the McCrow family in the pain they feel with losing Rachel,” they said.

“We also remember Alan Dare on this day.”

Following years of concerns about gun-related crime around Australia, a meeting of federal, state and territory leaders last week agreed to establish a National Firearms Register within four years.

The agreement was reached on the day a US man was arrested by the FBI in connection with the Queensland attack.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles.
 Deputy Premier Steven Miles at a memorial service for two police constables killed at Wieambilla. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

Conspiracy theorist Donald Day Jr was accused of sending “Christian end of days ideology” to the Trains in the lead-up to the killings after they connected on YouTube.

Stacey and Nathaniel Train’s children Madelyn and Aidan on Tuesday distanced themselves from their late parents’ “religiously extreme beliefs”, saying they would mark the first anniversary by grieving the victims.

“All who are hurt by the loss of Rachel, Matthew and Alan have our condolences and sympathy,” they said in a statement.

“We are truly sorry for the suffering our parents have caused and the impact their actions continue to have.”