Coroner to conduct inquest into death

POLICE handling of a seven-hour siege at Moranbah in which a gunman fired numerous shots and ultimately killed himself will be scrutinised at a Coroner’s Court inquest.

More than a dozen shots were fired from a high-powered rifle during the siege, which resulted in residences and businesses being evacuated and a section of Moranbah being locked down.

A police emergency response team was brought in.

The gunman was Anton John Parsons, a Bluff-born father of three who had served time in prison for arson and had threatened witnesses who might have testified at his arson case in 2002.

Anton Parsons, who was known as Anthony, worked as a digger-operator at mines in the Bowen Basin.

Chief Coroner Michael Barnes will conduct the inquest in Brisbane later this month and has announced the inquiry would investigate “the appropriateness of the conduct of police involvement in the containment of Mr Parsons at his residence and, where relevant, whether that conduct adhered to Queensland Police Service policies in place at the time”.

Mr Parsons was known to police before he entered a house in McCool St, Moranbah, and fired a series of shots with a long-range rifle, starting about 2.40pm on Monday, January 25, last year.

He allegedly barricaded himself inside the McCool St residence.

During the siege, neighbours said they feared for their lives and one was shot at. Police closed streets and ordered residents to stay indoors. Businesses at nearby Clements St Plaza were closed.

The operation involved all available police officers in the Moranbah area at the time and extra officers were brought in. Emergency workers, including paramedics, were on standby.

One woman told the Daily Mercury that shots flew past her house at a police car and at her neighbour.

The same woman said she knew the siege was over when she heard a loud bang about 9.40pm and she heard a police officer yelling, “squeeze my hand if you can hear me”.

Mr Parsons left the residence at some point and shot himself in front of a driveway in Williams St.

He was jailed for six months in February, 2003, for lighting five unauthorised fires and sending a threatening letter to a police witness. The letter to the witness was a serious threat, in which Mr Parsons referred to a motorcycle gang and being hunted down.

Mr Parsons was a volunteer firefighter who lit fires around Moranbah so he could put them out.

He underwent psychological and psychiatric assessment before facing court in Mackay.

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