Locals have revealed disturbing details about a camouflage-clad gunman who went on a shooting rampage, including his obsession with guns and membership of a local pistol club.
Lachlan Bowles, 25, shot workmate Terry Czernowski, a father in his 40s, at a grain silo business in Kelleberrin, about 205km east of Perth, at around 8.40am on Thursday.
It plunged the WA town into lockdown and sparked a lengthy police search.
Bowles was reportedly seen wearing a Swastika and waving around a Nazi flag until he turned the gun on himself when cornered by police that evening.
Kelleberrin residents have since revealed Bowles loved firearms and owned several guns, some of which he could shoot up to 3km, the West Australian reports.
It has also emerged he was a member of the local pistol club and had won shooting awards.
He was carrying a high-powered rifle and a pistol during the rampage.
The owner of the Kellerberrin Pie Shop and Bakery, Tony Downs, described Bowles as a “quiet guy” and said he visited the bakery for lunch on Wednesday, a day before the shooting.
“He’s always been a quiet sort of a guy but you don’t expect him to turn around and pick up a gun and shoot someone,” Mr Downs told The West Australian.
“Obviously something has happened at work and it’s triggered him off and he’s gone up there and shot him, along with two other people.”
Records from the Shire of Kellerberrin reveal Bowles won a 2020 Australia Day Award for his community service with St John Ambulance.
A photo from the April 2021 award ceremony revealed Bowles smiling proudly and holding his award alongside his fellow recipients.
In the comments, several people appeared to rally around Bowles, congratulating him on his award.
“Congratulations to all the worthy recipients and special mention to our SJA (St John Ambulance) volunteer Lachlan Bowles, great effort,” said one woman.
Bowles waved Nazi flag, wore a Swastika
On Thursday, the West Australian reported Bowles was waving a Nazi flag and wearing a Swastika.
Bowles then fled, shooting at a car but miraculously avoiding the driver who was unharmed.
Police cornered Bowles in a field during an hours-long standoff before the gunman shot himself. He was declared dead at the scene.
Police Commander of Regional WA Rod Wilde told the media on Thursday evening Mr Bowles was located about 20km north of the town.
“He was situated in a field there, and [Tactical Response Group officers] had been talking to him for several hours,” Mr Wilde said.
At least one police car was shot at during the incident, before Mr Bowles is understood to have turned the gun on himself, ending the stand-off.
“Obviously it’s a tragic outcome for everyone involved,” Mr Wilde said.
It’s understood Mr Czernowski had a young daughter.
“The guy that died was only in my shop on Friday. We were talking about his plans for Father’s Day,” Kellerberrin Pie Shop and Bakery owner Tony told the West Australian newspaper.
Another local said Mr Czernowski was the “life of the party” and well-known around town.
Bowles had lived in the town for several years.
“We do believe both men were known to each other, and worked together in Kelleberrin … they weren't related,” Commander Wilde said.
He also confirmed Mr Bowles was licensed to own a number of different guns.
UPDATE: ACTIVE SHOOTER ALERT
The man is believed to be travelling on foot around Mission Road, in the Kellerberrin and Bencubbin areas.
He is believed to be armed and dressed in camouflage clothing. Residents in the area are urged to stay inside and avoid traveling by any means. https://t.co/K1dzIxxCwg
— WA Police Force (@WA_Police) September 7, 2023
Shortly after the shooting, police responded to the incident in force, and issued an alert seeking the whereabouts of Mr Bowles in the Kellerberrin area.
“Members of the public are advised to not approach Mr Bowles or the vehicle but contact police immediately on triple-0,” a WA Police spokesperson said in a statement.
Kellerberrin residents were urged to remain inside during the incident.