South Australian police pleaded with violent fugitive Rodney Clavell to give himself up peacefully before he was found dead at the end of a 12-hour police siege in Adelaide, South Australian Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Dickson said.
Mr Dickson said it was still not clear whether four women who had been with Clavell in a massage parlour in Adelaide's CBD during the siege were hostages or knew the 46-year-old in any way.
He said a police robot entered the first floor of the building, where Clavell had been holed up, just before 1pm. The robot located Clavell's body about 1.40pm.
"Unfortunately today's planned activities by the police didn't work out as we had hoped," Mr Dickson said.
Four women had been released about 11.30am after hours of negotiations with Clavell by police through the women. Police tried for hours to end the siege peacefully, Mr Dickson said.
One of the women collapsed to the ground after walking from the building with her hands kept high above her head and became emotionally distressed.
A warrant was issued for Clavell, a former prison guard, on May 20 in relation to firearm and other matters.
Mr Dickson said police received a report that Clavell had assaulted a woman in a park and was in possession of a shotgun on May 25. He said for the past 14 days it was believed that Clavell had been involved in other offences while police searched for him.
The women who were in the building with Clavell have not yet given statements to police. Mr Dickson said it was therefore not clear if they had been held against their will. Regardless, Mr Dickson said the women had all "had a fairly harrowing experience".
South Australian Police Minister Tony Piccolo earlier confirmed Clavell's death in South Australia's Parliament.
A decade ago, Clavell was involved in a shoot-out with police.
A close friend of his told the media on Thursday that the fugitive was armed with a .22 rifle and ammunition and had vowed to kill police if he was cornered.
In 2004, Clavell used a 12-tonne grader to flee from police. He was shot twice and Tasered by STAR Group officers after the 46km chase through the Adelaide Hills.
The woman told Advertiser.com.au that she had dropped Clavell off at the massage parlour on Monday morning, and that he would not surrender to police “because he knows they are going to kill him’’.
“He thinks they have it in for him, he will take police out,’’ she was quoted as saying.
“He knows he won’t survive this alive today.
“We discussed the fact that innocent people should not be hurt, people who have not been wronged by him should not be affected by this.’’
Superintendent Peter Harvey had earlier acknowledged Clavell’s violent past but said he had served his time for that.
‘‘It’s nothing to do with today except to remind us of his propensity for violence,’’ Superintendent Harvey said.
‘‘We have been aware for 14 days that he is armed, so we treat him at the highest level of risk. What you see today is unprecedented for Adelaide.’’
RODNEY CLAVELL TIMELINE OF EVENTS
- May 20, warrant issued for his arrest after he fails to attend court on firearm matters
- May 21, police raid two houses searching for him
- May 22, two inner-city schools locked down as heavily armed police search the area after reports Clavell and a driver ran from a nearby car
- May 25, woman allegedly assaulted by Clavell who had a shotgun
- June 2, police say they have searched more than 80 properties in their hunt for Clavell
- 0100, siege begins after police alerted to Clavell’s presence in a massage parlour in the inner-city in King William Street
- Four blocks south of Victoria Square blocked off to traffic and pedestrians
- Police appeal for Clavell to leave the building peacefully
- 1130, police secure the release of four distraught women who were inside the premises
- 1255, a robot is deployed and locates Clavell in a position which led police to believe he was dead
- 1340, STAR Group officers enter and find him dead. A firearm is also located.