A lone gunman opened fire outside a New South Wales police headquarters in Sydney yesterday, deliberately targeting and killing an IT police worker.
In a shocking attack on a busy street in broad daylight in Parramatta - which is effectively the city's second business district - the man began shooting at about 4.30pm, killing the worker at close range before police shot him dead.
The incident was not believed to be terrorism but police reported increased chatter about an imminent attack.
"At this stage, we've got nothing to link this event to any terrorist-related activity, but we could not say that that wasn't the case," the New South Wales Police Commissioner, Mr Andrew Scipione, told reporters last night. "This was a brutal crime. It was a terrible crime… We are keeping an open mind, we don't want to jump to conclusions."
The victim, who has not been identified, was an IT specialist who worked for the police. Police said no motive had yet emerged but the public was safe.
The Parramatta headquarters, west of the central business district in the geographic heart of Sydney, reportedly houses the squads that handle homicides, drugs, Middle Eastern organised crime and gangs.
Mr Scipione said the gunman, who has not been named, appeared to have acted alone and wore "a long pair of long trousers and a flowing top" and was armed with a handgun.
"The footage that I've viewed shows that this particular man (the police employee) was certainly targeted," Mr Scipione said. "This man was simply leaving work this afternoon, he was gunned down. He was murdered on this very street."
Police closed busy streets and patrolled them as a helicopter flew overhead. Witnesses described terrifying scenes.
"As I was sitting in my apartment I heard three or four bangs," a resident, Mr Raj Sodhi, told ABC News. "And then, within half a minute of that, there were three or four more bangs. It's kind of scary because it has happened at a time of day when people are coming back home from work, in broad daylight."
Fairfax Media reported that police had detected increased "chatter" this week about a possible attack on the Parramatta headquarters. An officer said that all officers had been ordered to wear their guns at all times, even while at their desks.
Mr Scipione said the gunman appeared to have waited after the shooting to "commit suicide by cop". He said: "This is a terrible episode and it will have an impact on our officers."