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Policeman kept alive by colleagues

May 30th, 2011 Australia


AAP

Gold Coast policemen Damien Leeding was kept alive by several of his fellow police officers, including his partner, after being shot in the face at close range with a shotgun.

Senior Constable Leeding’s female plain clothes partner is back on the scene helping to piece together the events which led to the shooting late on Sunday night during an armed robbery at the Pacific Pines Tavern.

The 34-year-old plains clothes officer is in a critical condition in the Gold Coast Hospital surrounded by his family, including his police officer wife and two young children.

Three people, two men and woman, are in custody.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the outlook for Sen Const Leeding, who was shot in the face at close range with a shotgun, was grim.

“He is still critical and we have grave concerns for Damian,” Mr Leavers told reporters.

Sen Const Leeding and his partner were the first to arrive at the triple-0 call-out for an armed robbery with hostages shortly before 11pm AEST on Sunday. He was shot as he approached the tavern.

His partner and two of the hostages were on Monday morning helping detectives at the scene of the shooting.

Two men and a woman had been detained, Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson told reporters in Brisbane.

He said the dog squad tracked down a man and woman soon after the shooting while a second man was detained on Monday morning.

“They were the three people involved but that doesn’t include others who may have been involved on the periphery,” Mr Atkinson said.

“It occurred around closing time and people were taken effectively hostage.”

Assistant Commissioner Paul Wilson told reporters the three suspects were being questioned by police but had not yet been charged.

Mr Wilson praised the first aid efforts of Sen Const Leeding’s female partner and fellow officers who kept him alive.

He said officers from outside Sen Const Leeding’s station would be brought in for the investigation.

Mr Atkinson said Sen Const Leeding had been a police officer for eight years and had quickly risen through the ranks to work in the plain clothes division.

Sen Const Leeding, who is based at Coomera, is married to Sonya, a Gold Coast senior constable, and is the father of two young children.

“The family is at the hospital now and conducting a vigil,” Mr Atkinson said.

The shooting comes after a call for a specialist armed robbery squad on the Gold Coast following numerous hold-ups in the area this year.

Mr Atkinson said this incident would raise further questions about the need for a specific armed robbery squad on the Gold Coast.

Police Minister Neil Roberts said it was an operational decision for police to set up specialist armed robbery squads.

“Ultimately it’s a matter for the police commissioner, they are provided with resources by the government,” he said.

Premier Anna Bligh also paid tribute to the officer.

“This young officer and his family will be in the thoughts and prayers of all Queenslanders today,” Ms Bligh said.

“This incident is a tragic reminder of the risks our police officers across the state face each day as they carry out their duties.”