Police car shot by gunman suffering a severe meltdown
A BULLET struck the driver’s door of a police car when a gunman opened fire with a high powered military-style rifle.
Two Ipswich officers in the Hyundai Sonata called to a Goodna street with reports of gunshots, smelled the gunshot smoke and rapidly drove off.
Police emergency back-up was called for and the officers found the gouge marks in the door made by a bullet.
Ipswich Magistrates Court heard that if the bullet had gone through the door it would have struck the officer in the abdomen. But due to its trajectory it luckily failed to enter the cabin.
Seven months later and accused shooter Rodney George Bell, 59, appeared in the court dock and pleaded guilty to dangerous conduct with a weapon on Friday, May 10 in Goodna; threatening violence – discharge firearms; unlawful possession of weapons – category B; wilful damage of police property; and not having an authority to possess explosives (ammunition).
Until that night Bell had never been in serious trouble with the law.
Prosecutor Sergeant Chris O’Neill said the risk to the police officers and to residents of the community that night were real.
And fear by the family and another resident would have been severe.
Sgt O’Neill said firearm offences were becoming prevalent and such offences where officers were shot at should be deterred.
He said officers were called to the street at 7pm with a series of Triple-0 calls made by residents reporting loud gunshots in nearby bushland.
Bell’s wife told police he was suicidal and intended to shoot at police to force them to return fire and kill him.
The former army officer had a high powered bolt action centre fire rifle with a magazine .
Police described it as being capable of causing catastrophic injury or death.
Defence lawyer Matthew Fairclough said Bell has apologised to police and quite remorseful about his conduct that night.
“He did not intend to hurt anyone although the potential was there,” he said.
“He is quite devastated on reflection of his conduct and been very upset. And has previously been of good character.”
Mr Fairclough said Bell joined the Australian Army in 1980, later worked as a delivery driver, and he and his wife had successfully raised their children.
At the time of the incident he was suffering a depressive episode and emotionally upset. He has since been receiving professional counselling.
With seven months already spent in jail, Mr Fairclough sought Bell’s immediate release on parole saying that he had received significant punishment.
Magistrate Virginia Sturgess said two police officers responded to the 000 calls about gunfire.
There had been a loud gunshot close to the police car and the officers smelled the gunshot and drove off at speed.
Ms Sturgess said it was very fortunate the bullet did not penetrate the door skin.
She said a resident of the house named Jayde told police she was terrified and in fear of being harmed when she barricaded herself in a bedroom by pushing furniture against the door.
Residents of the street heard multiple shots in nearby bushland and Polair was used to survey the scene.
When he walked out from beneath a house without the weapon he was arrested.
Ms Sturgess said Bell was in an emotional state and apologised for shooting at them.
She said he caused significant alarm and hoped his behaviour was a one-off and he addresses the factors that caused him to act the way he did and to hopefully move forward.
Bell was sentenced to a two year jail term for dangerous conduct with a weapon. And to lesser jail terms.
With seven months already served Bell was granted immediate parole release.