GROUNDSWELL OF SUPPORT: Flowers in tribute to Senior Constable Brett Forte left under the Toowoomba police memorial outside Southern Region District headquarters in Neil St yesterday.
GROUNDSWELL OF SUPPORT: Flowers in tribute to Senior Constable Brett Forte left under the Toowoomba police memorial outside Southern Region District headquarters in Neil St yesterday. Kevin Farmer

How Brett Forte's killer got semi-auto guns in focus

HOW deranged police killer Rick Maddison came into possession of high-powered semi-automatic firearms will be a key focus for investigators probing the tragic death of Toowoomba officer Brett Forte.

Maddison taunted police for weeks, regularly phoning the Tactical Crime Squad unit including the morning he shot and killed Senior Constable Forte.

He had with him a semi-automatic rifle, a weapon with such force it shattered the glass on a heavily armoured vehicle, injuring an officer at the deadly end of a 20-hour stand off with police on Tuesday.

The Darling Downs region has been rife with illegal firearms with police turning their attention to the crime in the past six months in an effort to curb the surging crime rate and remove unlawful weapons from the streets.

While police refuse to confirm what weapons Maddison armed himself with, it was reported he had with him a SKS - a high calibre rifle favoured by hunters and capable of rapid firing.

Elite police found several other firearms in the shed where Maddison defied police for 20 hours.

How he came to possess the weapons cache will be a key aspect of ongoing investigations, as will the tragic chain of events which led to a hero police officer falling in the line of duty, and the murderous career criminal who gunned him down.

The investigation

THE chain of events will be the focus of two thorough investigations by separate units.

The Queensland Homicide Squad will investigate Snr Const Forte's murder at the hands of Maddison.

It will probe how it got to the point the killer, once told by the courts he had a "thuggish element" about him, came to possess a number of high-powered semi-automatic firearms.

Any interactions between Maddison and police will also be reviewed and form part of the final report to be handed to the coroner.

Snr Cost Forte's actions on Monday will be reviewed including his instinct to help save his fellow officers from deadly gunfire.

The Ethical Standards Command will focus on Maddison's death by police and will review the strategies the specialist police employed in the long stand off.

The ESC will examine all communications and the investigation will likely take months.

A senior officer likened the investigation to that into the Sydney Lindt Cafe siege - a thorough probe of the December 2014 incident which only last month was finalised by the NSW coroner.

It remains unclear if the tragedy will bring about a change on Queensland's policing policies and tactics.

But police will continue to track down illegal firearms and the theft of registered weapons - a crime which had been, and continues to be, a concern in the Darling Downs.

How it unfolded

SPECULATION is mounting Maddison lured police to the rural property off Wellers Rd property.

Maddison, originally from Clifton but known around Toowoomba, had no other connection to the propertyother than knowing it was there.

The property is owned by a friend of Maddison, and was where he ran to from police with a view of bunkering down in a shed.

Small windows and a glass panel gave him a limited view on his surroundings as elite police swarmed.

Maddison fired shots at the police helicopter, and was heard laughing as he did so.

He hurled threats at the police and warned he was not giving in without a fight.

The officers, mourning the loss of a colleague, waited him out, still hopeful of a peaceful resolution.

How it ended

HEAVILY armed police had negotiated for 20 hours, giving Maddison the chance to surrender.

Specialist police vehicles arrived within hours of an exclusion zone being set up.

Marked police cars were parked across the road at seven checkpoints by 3.20pm Monday, buffering Maddison from the public in an effort to contain the stand off.

Residents unable to leave the zone were told to bunker indoors and remain in place.

Those who arrived after were barred from going home.

Some waited, spending a cold, sleepless night in their cars, believing the siege would end overnight.

As dawn broke Tuesday, the marked police cars hadn't moved.

The residents didn't know negotiations had continued throughout the night, that police had continually tried to peacefully resolve the stand off and coax Maddison from his stronghold.

They didn't know he was armed, that he had more than one high-powered rifle or that he was determined to go down, guns blazing.

Then, about 11am Tuesday, Maddison made his move.

He armed himself with a semi-automatic gun and tried to flee from police.

He fired at officers. They challenged him.

He fired again. They again challenged him.

Maddison was shot in the chest and died at the scene.

How it started

MADDISON had a grudge against authorities and the Tactical Crime Squad in particular.

He was in regular contact with the unit, tauntingly phoning them.

He was known to police, on the run with a number of outstanding warrants for his arrest.

On Monday, police seized on the intelligence Maddison was in Toowoomba after he phoned TCS that morning.

He was spotted on Mary St, and was pursued down the Range to Wellers Rd.

Snr Const Forte was in the police vehicle that went to intercept Maddison who opened fire on the officers.

Two police vehicles are littered with bullet holes from Maddison's weapons.


Killer's friends claim conspiracy

MADDISON'S supporters believe it was a police conspiracy that led to the tattooed man's death.

They believe Maddison was tormented by police, harassed and forced him to fire at them.

But his criminal history shows a pattern of escalation from an assault conviction in 2005 to deprivation of liberty and torture charges in 2009.

The fatal overdose of jockey friend Stathi Katsidis in 2010 is also being reported as a critical event that pushed Maddison over the edge.

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