Alexandra Headland siege: why police needed time

"DOWN, get down."

I remember police screaming across at waiting media as a gunman emerged out of a caravan at a Sunshine Coast tourist park like it was yesterday.

More than a dozen journalists and camera operators dropped to the ground, some on their stomachs, quicker than I had seen any of  them move.

Armed with a shotgun, the gunman wanted his grievances aired on television. There were children involved and it was an incredibly tense situation.

At one stage, police were entertaining the idea of bringing in a local TV crew to placate him and perhaps provide an opportunity to end the situation.

The man was clearly mentally unstable and agitated.

The TV crew idea was quickly abandoned, perhaps out of fear that too many people would be put at risk.

The situation unfolded at the Seabreeze Caravan Park years ago.

Like the siege at Alexandra Headland, it was complex.

With tourists everywhere, police were not about to take any risks.

They were in for the long haul.

While many on social media think the police are heavily armed and can just 'storm the place', the reality is far different.

Police face an incredibly difficult balancing act.

Their ultimate objective is to protect life and property - including that of the offender.

By all accounts, Zlatko Sikorsky, was also in for the long haul.

Based on earlier reports, he clearly didn't want to be shot by police.

Police were dealing with a highly volatile situation in a very confined space with people all around the unit complex.

Today's events within the exclusion zone have been largely sedate.

It was very much a waiting game.

Residents have photographed and videoed moments of high drama - police with military-style firearms stalking the unit complex, dogs barking and yelling.

But in the end, police were waiting for any opportunity to end the situation peacefully.

In the sieges I have covered over the years, Sunshine Coast police have acted with professionalism and patience.

In the end, the man at the Cotton Tree siege was brought out safely in the middle of the night.

The siege was still going as we were on deadline for the following day's paper.

Then the phone rang.

It was the gunman.

I knew it was him because I had earlier asked a police contact for his name.

He talked through his grievances, while I had the news editor get the police on the line, asking them for advice on how we should deal with him.

They were happy to let him talk but asked us to withhold information from the next day's paper until they had resolved the situation, which we did.

Nowadays, police face a far more complex scenario with media able to publish updates instantly and witnesses able to share goings on via video on social media.

Police should always be given all the time they need to do their job.

Mark Furler is News Regional Media's group digital editor. He has been a journalist on the Sunshine Coast for more than 30 years.

News Corp Australia


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