December 18, 2020
Queensland police say Raghe Mohamed Abdi pulled a knife on officers before he was shot dead. (ABC News)
By Emilie Gramenz and staff
Queensland police say a man shot dead by officers on the Logan Motorway may be linked to the alleged murder of a man and woman on Brisbane’s southside on Thursday.
Raghe Mohamed Abdi, 22, was previously investigated by a counter-terrorism taskforce, but his lawyer says police are “setting out to paint a person they’ve shot and killed in the worst possible light”.
He was being monitored by a GPS tracking device and was armed with a knife when police fatally shot the Calamvale man.
Officers arrived at the scene at Drewvale on Brisbane’s southern outskirts at 6:00am on Thursday after reports from the public of someone walking on the road.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) said Mr Abdi was out on bail at the time and had cut off his GPS device the night before the incident.
Police are investigating whether the alleged murder of a man and woman at Parkinson, in Brisbane’s south, may be linked to Mr Abdi.
Officers discovered the bodies of Maurice and Zoe Antill, aged 87 and 86, when doing a welfare check at what is believed to their home, in Ulinga Crescent at 3:00pm on Thursday.
Police said the bodies had suffered significant injuries.
Police said Mr Abdi was previously investigated by AFP officers in the Queensland Joint Counter Terrorism team.
AFP Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney said the man had been “influenced” by Islamic State and had previously been stopped from leaving the country.
“In May 2019, the deceased, who we suspect was influenced by Islamic State, attempted to depart Brisbane International Airport for Somalia,” he said.
“He was stopped and arrested on suspicion of an attempted foreign incursion.”
Deputy Commissioner McCartney said Mr Abdi was released without charge on that occasion due to insufficient evidence, although his passport was cancelled.
“In June 2019 he was charged with further offences, including refusing to hand over his passcode to his mobile phone,” Deputy Commissioner McCartney said.
“He was remanded in custody when he refused to answer the magistrate or acknowledge the authority of the court.
“He applied for and was granted bail on the 3rd of September this year.”
Call for police to stop ‘deplorable practice’
Terry O’Gorman has been Mr Abdi’s lawyer for about a year.
Mr O’Gorman, who is also president of the Australian Council of Civil Liberties, said there was “precious little evidence” that Mr Abdi held extremist views.
“When he was going to Somalia to visit relatives, he was held for 18 hours and investigated as to whether he was going to Somalia as a foreign fighter,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“There was no evidence to justify holding him and 18 months later he has never been charged with that offence.
“I call on police to stop this deplorable practice that they regularly engage after police shoot and kill someone, of then setting out to paint the person that they’ve shot and killed in the worst possible light.
“Mr Abdi was not a bad person — he was a young man who — on information known to me — suffered a significant adverse mental health event yesterday and last night.”
Mr O’Gorman said there was “precious little evidence” that Mr Abdi held extremist views.(ABC News: Kristian Silva)
Mr O’Gorman said he had been in contact with the Abdi family.
“His family have asked me to particularly get the message out that Raghe was not in anyway connected with terrorism — Raghe yesterday clearly suffered a serious mental health event,” he said.
“Let the coroner decide what happened.”
GPS tracking device tampered with
Queensland police Deputy Commissioner Tracy Linford said Mr Abdi’s charges were mentioned in court earlier this month.
She said he was charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of failing to comply with an order to provide a PIN code to his phone.
She said Mr Abdi had been on remand.
“The magistrate deemed him to be remanded for a period of time until he was satisfied he could be released on bail,” she said.
Queensland police said the man was not subject to a current counter-terrorism investigation at the time of his death, but was on bail for offences under the Crimes Act.
On Wednesday afternoon, police were notified by a monitoring company that the man’s GPS tracking device had been tampered with.
Officers attended his address at around 4:30pm and spoke to Mr Abdi’s father, but Mr Abdi was not home.
Police returned at about 8:30pm and spoke to his father again.
Officers said his GPS tracker was “pinging” in bushland that police later searched, but neither the tracker or Mr Abdi could be found.
Deputy Commissioner Linford said the Queensland police officers who attended the incident on Thursday morning were not aware of his previous history.
‘A horrific scene’ in peak hour traffic
Deputy Commissioner Linford said police initially received a welfare call about reports of a man walking on the highway this morning.
She said the man made verbal and physical threats towards police while brandishing a knife just before he was shot dead.
“As you can imagine, at six in the morning in Brisbane, that is the commencement of peak-hour traffic, so there was a lot of traffic on the road, trucks and vehicles,” she said.
“Upon seeing the male, our police have approached him and tried to engage him to get him to a place of safety, and away from all the moving vehicles.
“It is unfortunate that at that time the male person has produced a knife and upon advancing on our police, they have had to resort to using their police service firearms and have fatally shot that man.
“They did immediately render first aid assistance, and as you can imagine, it was a fairly horrific scene.
“Our sincere condolences obviously go out to the family of this young man.”
The Queensland Joint Counter Terrorism Team are investigating why the man was on the Logan Motorway and whether anyone else was involved.
“There’s nothing at this point in time to indicate that there was anyone else involved in what happened this morning, but we need to pursue all avenues of inquiry to satisfy ourselves that that is the case,” Deputy Commissioner Linford said.
Body-worn camera footage from two officers at the scene will form part of an Ethical Standards Command investigation that will be overseen by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission.
Police have appealed for anyone who may have witnessed the incident, or saw the man earlier in the morning, to contact them.