Warners Bay shooting: man dies after Lake Macquarie police shooting

POLICE are monitoring the welfare of relatives of a man shot by police at Warners Bay on Wednesday. 

Northern Region commander Assistant Commissioner Jeff Loy told reporters that the Homicide Squad would examine the circumstances surrounding the shooting. 

"At this time we acknowledge the grief and suffering of the man’s family and also we are looking after welfare of our police and their families but I can assure you that every aspect of this [matter] will be investigated by a critical investigation team and overseen by the professional standards command," Assistant Commissioner Loy said.

While police declined to go into specifics about the incident, they said it would have a major impact on the officers involved and their families as well as the grief-stricken family of the man killed.

"I have seen that footage and that footage will play a significant part in the investigation, but I don’t intend tonight to deduct that footage," Assistant Commissioner Loy said.

"Tonight will be a long night but also a long journey for all the people involved," Assistant Commissioner Loy said.

"Again, our thoughts and prayers are out to the family of the man but also the families of our police.

"They’re fine at the moment, and we’re looking after them.

"They have to go through a process of this investigation, and their actions will be accountable, but we’ll do everything in our power to make sure  their welfare is maintained, and hopefully they’ll come through this and we’ll move forward. 

"It does [shake the police involved]. This is why this is such a major event when it does occur.

"Unfortunately tonight it is the fifth anniversary, I understand, of the death of William Crews, the police officer.

"It’s one of those things where life is strange. 

Police said officers were called to a post office on Postmans Lane at Warners Bay about 3.15pm on Wednesday, responding to reports a man was armed with a knife.

Officers from Lake Macquarie Local Area Command attended and confronted a man.

He died at the scene after a police firearm was discharged.

A critical incident team will now investigate all circumstances surrounding the incident, including the actions of police.

That investigation will be overseen by the Professional Standards Command.

An Australia Post spokeswoman said they were working with police and the relevant authorities at the scene. 

Communications Electrical Plumbing Union branch secretary Jim Metcher issued a statement confirming the man who died was a postal services officer.

"The deceased man was a member of the union and his name is presently withheld," he wrote.

"Despite his long history of mental health disorders that has resulted in this horrific and tragic sad circumstance, he was always held in high regard and supported by his colleagues.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends along with our local retail members who have been subjected to this horrific ordeal late this afternoon."

The union will offer counselling to members. 

Video of the shooting shows the two plain clothes police officers, telling the man to ‘‘put the knife on the ground’’.

At one point an officer yells ‘‘put it down or we’re going to shoot’’.

‘‘C’mon mate, we’re not mucking around, you don’t want to do this mate,’’ one of the officers can be heard saying.

After a short interval one of the officers then says ‘‘put it down mate, we’re here to help you’’.

The man then appears to approach one of the officers holding the knife in a threatening position.

The officer yells for him to ‘‘put it down’’ twice more before the three gun shots are fired and the man collapses.

Warners Bay's Cheryl Taylor said she was heading to the post office when she was warned away.

"A woman said to me don't go over there, there's a man with a knife," she said.

"The knife was a really big knife...there was another man there saying don't do it mate."

"I heard two shots fired and that was all I heard.

"Since then I've heard a lot of stories...but that's all I know."

A witness to the alleged shooting in Warners Bay has described the victim looking ‘‘distressed’’ in the minutes before he was gunned down.

The woman, who did not want to be named, was standing in the car park across from the post office when she saw a man ‘‘holding a butcher’s knife to what looked like a staff member’’.

‘‘The guy who looked like a staff member kept his distance and at one point he had to run away, he didn’t turn his back but he had to run to stop him coming towards him," the witness said.

She said her and a friend came across the scene and immediately called the police.

‘‘There was no one else around and my friend, who I was with, said you have to call the police,’’ she told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘Two guys came up and tried to stop it, they were telling the guy to put the knife down but he wouldn’t.

‘‘He looked really distressed. One hand was holding the knife and the other was kind of covering his face. Like he had his head in his hands. But he was wearing sunglasses the whole time.’’

The witness said that police arrived within four minutes, and fired three shots at the man when he refused to put down the knife.

‘‘Two police officers rocked up and got out, they were holding their guns up and yelling at him to put the knife down but he still wouldn’t,’’ she said.

‘‘Then he came at the police with the knife. He didn’t run, but he came at them, and they just shot him three times. 

Another witness said she heard shouting and went to the window.

"I walked to the window and I saw two men holding what looked to be guns at someone," she said.

"The man was standing holding some type of weapon.

She said the entire thing happened in less than a minute.

"I called out to my colleagues...my boss said get away from the window, and we heard three shots.

"I came back to the window, there were sirens and police everywhere."

An employee at Dawson’s Oysters in nearby King Street said the man had been shot three times.

Speaking to the Herald on Wednesday afternoon, she said it happened about 3.20pm.

She did not see what happened but had been told the man was in the Warners Bay post office threatening staff or customers with a knife.

Someone called the police who arrived within minutes.

They confronted the man outside the post office and told him to put the knife down.

When he didn’t, he was shot.

The woman said King Street and the post office street, John Street, were shut off to traffic.

A large number of police and police vehicles were still at the scene. 

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