An alleged shooter who went on an “insane” bloody rampage across Darwin, killing four men and injuring a woman, was well known in the tight-knit Northern Territory city.
The 45-year-old, who was on parole, was arrested after being on the run for about an hour following the mass shooting at five locations in and around a hotel just outside the CBD on late Tuesday, June 4.
“It’s a very small community up here, and everyone knows everyone,” NT Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw told Sydney radio 2GB early Wednesday, June 5.
“He’s well known to many people and yes, that’s why the ripples in the Territory are very intense when this occurs.”
Detectives will start piecing together the sequence of events on June 5, including the motives of the shooter, who’s been named as Darwin local Ben Hoffmann.
Known to his friends as “Hoffy”, the actions of the alleged shooter have shocked those closest to him.
“F********ck…Hoffy,W.T.F…,” one person posted on Facebook.
Kershaw described him as having links to outlaw motorcycle gangs. He was released from prison on parole in January after serving at least a year. He had been wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet.
“He is an individual who is well known to police and has a number of interactions – adverse – with the police force,” Kershaw told reporters late June 4.
“We’re still trying to establish the intent and the motivation behind this.”
The man was arrested at the busy Stuart Highway and McMinn Street intersection near where the shootings occurred.
Television footage showed him on the ground after being dragged from under his white dual cab ute, kicking his legs at officers from the Northern Territory Police Territory Response Group.
Police on June 5 said the ute had been “borrowed”.
The incident started with reports of a man with a pump action shotgun firing at Finnis St at about 5.50pm on June 4.
The four deaths occurring at the nearby Buffalo Club, Gardens Hill Crescent, the Palms Motel and Jolly Street.
He also tried to enter the Peter McCauley Centre police station to possibly hand himself in, then phoned a duty superintendent who did a “magnificent job in negotiating with him” before the arrest, Kershaw said.
A group of about a dozen men who were friends and relatives of a man who died at the Palms Hotel gathered outside after the shooting and many were in tears.
Darwin local Matthew James was standing in a nearby carpark when it all began.
“It was just surreal,” he told Nine’s Today program on June 5. “All of a sudden there were these gunshots.”
“Moments later someone came running towards me carrying this woman who was covered in blood and just basically put her at my feet and she was screaming that she had been shot.
“The guy that actually carried her up was pretty frantic at the time, saying he had opened the door and there was a gunman there with a shotgun and he proceeded to fire upon anybody inside the building.”
James earlier told AAP the woman was hysterical.
“She was caught up in it, she said ‘I’ve been shot, I don’t know why, I don’t have anything to do with anything’, he said.
The woman told James the shooter had been going from room to room, firing his gun and shouting the name of a man—Alex.
“It just seems so insane,” James said.
Chris Dalgleish, who was having a beer on the balcony of the Frontier Hotel pub across the road from the Palms, said people raced inside when they heard gunshots.
“Everyone started jumping inside, then locking doors and windows and went to the back corner,” he told AAP.
The alleged shooter is in hospital, under guard, to assess his mental condition.
The injured woman is also in hospital, in a stable condition.
NT Police have sought forensics and ballistics help from their counterparts in NSW.