Brave Officers On The Front Line Of Domestic Violence, Took Bullet To Face While Protecting Woman
The reality of being a police officer sent shock waves through the NSW Police force on Friday, when two of their own were shot while attending a domestic dispute.
The call came in around 9.40pm, after 59-year-old Lesley Newman ran to a neighbour's house fearing for her life following an argument with her husband Eric Newman -- a wild game hunter who was known to have guns in the house.
When police arrived in Glen Innes, Eric was on the balcony of the couples large two-story home.
Officers approached from below, a conversation took place, and it's not clear what was said but without warning the 74-year-old produced a .303 rifle and fired at the officers, one bullet hitting two of them.
A second shot was heard a short time later, and Eric was later found dead on the balcony by specialist police.
Sergeant Mark Johnston was struck on the cheek before the bullet then hit Senior Constable Helen McMurtrie in the throat.
McMurtrie remains in an induced coma in a serious but stable condition, while Johnston this afternoon underwent surgery to remove bullet fragments from his face and is said to be recovering well.
Vehicles at the scene of the shooting. Photo: 10 News First.
A third officer, a probationary constable who had only been in the force for four weeks, was not injured at the time but helped Sergeant Johnston drag their seriously injured and heavily bleeding colleague some 40 metres back to their police vehicle.
Two neighbours who were playing Playstation next door heard the gun shots.
“We run outside and seen the coppers getting dragged across the front lawn, run up to help them and another gunshot went off,” said one of the young men who only wanted to be known as Will.
“They both got hit with the one bullet, went through just his cheek there then must have got old love in the neck."
The men also did what they could to assist the wounded officer McMurtrie until paramedics arrived.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Johnston put on his bulletproof vest and bravely returned to the house despite his wounds, not knowing if the man was dead or still a threat.
Senior police have praised the officers and those who assisted them.
On Saturday afternoon Acting Commissioner Gary Worboys released the following statement:
"While the incident is now subject of a critical incident investigation, I want to offer my support and well wishes to these three brave officers, their families and colleagues on behalf of the entire police force.
As an organisation, we are rallying around the officers and providing any support they need to assist in their recovery and we look forward to welcoming them back to work when they are ready.
Incidents like this highlight the very real dangers of policing and I thank everyone in the community for their support and well wishes. We will continue to support the officers and their families throughout their recovery."
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