DARWIN, Jun 5, 2019, 9News. The alleged gunman accused of killing four men and injuring one woman in a mass shooting in Darwin overnight has been identified as 45-year-old Ben Hoffmann. Known as “Hoffy” to those closest to him, the alleged gunman had been released from prison on parole in January after being sentenced to six years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of four years, police revealed today, without naming the suspect, reported the 9News.
Details of his record emerged as the first victim was named as taxi driver Hassan Baydoun, originally from Lebanon.
Hoffman was released on parole with 23 strict conditions, which included a requirement for him to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet that was not removed before yesterday’s alleged shooting.
He has yet to be charged.
9News understands Mr Baydoun maybe have been living at the Palms Motel.
Mr Baydoun had been working as a driver for Blue Taxis, and it mourned the loss of one of its “beloved” employees.
“Our Company is heartbroken and his colleagues are in a state of shock. This is not what our city stands for. Someone shot having a meal break while going about their own business.
“We pray that we never have to witness anything like this ever again.
“We mourn him and honour him. Our sincerest condolences and prays to his family and friends RIP, Hassan.”
Taxi driver Hassan Baydoun has been identified as a victim of Hoffman’s alleged rampage. (Supplied)
Eight crime scenes have been set up around the city, with 100 police tasked with determine what led to the tragic events and how the violence occurred.
Nine ballistic and forensic experts have also been flown in from Sydney to assist with the investigations.
The incident started with reports of a man firing shots at Finnis St at about 5.50pm just outside the Darwin CBD, with the four deaths occurring at the nearby Buffalo Club, Gardens Hill Crescent, the Palms Motel and Jolly Street.
He also allegedly tried to enter the Peter McCauley Centre police station to possibly hand himself in, then contacted a duty superintendent, police said.
“There is a police investigation, there will be a court case, there will be a coronial,” Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said at a press conference.
“Police will have an independent review of the incident and details will be advised later. We’ve asked for a detailed report from the Parole Board of the alleged offered and directed an immediate review of the 103 people currently on parole.”
Officers have confirmed the weapon allegedly used, a pump-action 12-guage shotgun, was a prohibited firearm that “may have been stolen as far back as 1997”.
It’s also been alleged he used three vehicles yesterday: A white Toyota Hilux with NT registration CC26QE, a Red Commodore with NT registration CC01IR and a silver Proton with NT registration CD49OU.
Police are also trying to piece together if any of the victims were known to the accused gunman.
“Initial indications believe it may be that he was looking for certain individuals,” NT Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said.
“One is particular we know was interstate and used to reside at a particular residence and that’s why we have untaken that line of inquiry.”
NT Corrections Commissioner Scott McNairn said the man was released on parole in January this year and had only received one mire breach for breaking his curfew by less than an hour.
“[He] was subject to a 14-day custodial sentence as a result,” he said. “He was subject during his time on parole to random drug testing, all of which returned negative tests. His last drug test was on May 21, 2019.”
Mr McNairn said the accused had broken his curfew period – requiring him to be home between 10pm and 6am – the previous evening.
“The offender left home during his curfew to attend the Royal Darwin Hospital to seek medical treatment and this is a permitted reason to leave home during a curfew period. He contacted Community Corrections to advise them.”
Earlier, witness John Rose told 9News how he saw the alleged gunman enter and exit the Palms Motel multiple times and fire at least 15 shots.
He heard “two loud bangs” which he initially thought were from fire crackers.
Mr Rose said while he and his neighbours were calling police when the suspected gunman exited the motel.
Leah Potter also witnessed police rushing to the scene where one man had been shot dead.
“A man was riding his bike and the policeman stopped him and commandeered the bike and rode down Finnis Street,” she told Today.
“I followed the cop down the street and a man had been shot in the face and shot dead.”
CCTV footage captured several loud gunshots of the incident, with confused voices heard in the background. “What was that noise,” asked one voice. “Fireworks,” replied another.
Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the territory response group as well as general duties officers tracked down the alleged shooter.
“Unfortunately, and sadly, four people have lost their lives this evening, this afternoon,” he said.
“Our hearts and the police family and the wider community are with you tonight and we’re here to support all of our community and those that have lost their loved ones.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the shooting “terrible news”.
“Terrible, terrible news in Darwin. This is a terrible act of violence that has already, I’m advised, taken the lives of four people. Number of others who are casualties – details of that still not yet confirmed.
“This is a matter that will be directly managed by the NT government. I just want to extend my deep condolences and sympathies to all the people of the territory, particularly in Darwin, this is a very tight community and I know they will be rocked by these events.
“Our advice is that this is not a terrorist attack, nothing to suggest that’s the case whatsoever. The true motivations of this criminal and violent act will become better known.
” I think it’s important that everyone in Darwin, everyone in the Territory, understands that the thoughts of Australians wherever they are, whether as far away as I am today or closer to home, they will be thinking very much of their fellow Australians in the Territory.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has called the shooting a “horrific violent crime.”
He tweeted: “Have been briefed by @fanniebay and @lukejgosling on the horrific violent crime which has shocked Darwin – along with all Australians my deepest sympathy and thoughts are with the NT community tonight.”