A young dad spent as few as three days with his newborn son before he was allegedly shot dead by his gun-wielding neighbour over a long-standing dispute about a fence, a family member says.
Graham Tighe, 35, was allegedly shot to death alongside his mother Maree Schwarz and step-father Mervyn Schwarz, 71, at 9am on Thursday at the boundary line of their property in Bogie, in the Whitsundays region of North Queensland.
Mr Tighe’s younger brother, Ross Tighe, in his 30s, was also shot in the stomach, but managed to escape to a ute and drive 40km to get help – while soaked in blood.
Police have 59-year-old Darryl Young in custody. He was charged with three counts of murder on Friday evening.
Greg Austen – who is Mrs Schwarz’s brother-in-law – told Daily Mail Australia that Graham Tighe’s infant son was hospitalised in Brisbane, 1,000km south of Bogie, soon after his birth three weeks ago ‘because he was crook’. He was released this week.
The little boy spent just three precious days with his father before the fatal shooting, Mr Austen said.
Pictured: Graham Tighe and his pregnant wife, before their son was born three weeks ago
Graham Tighe (pictured) leaves behind a young family, including a little boy who was recently sick, and his toddler daughter
‘I reckon Graham only spent about three days with his son,’ Mr Austen said.
‘He’s the first boy born that can carry on the Tighe family name.’
On July 11, Mr Tighe’s wife wrote a gushing social media post to introduce their newborn to family friends – their toddler sat next to her new brother, beaming at the camera.
‘Congratulations guys, so happy for your beautiful little family of four,’ a friend wrote in the comments section.
Police allege that on Wednesday night, Young invited the family to meet him at the border of their farms early on Thursday.
However, he allegedly pulled out a gun and shot all four members of the Schwarz-Tighe family, leaving Ross with a bullet wound to the stomach.
Ross Tighe, pictured with his partner Kaitlyn, is recovering in hospital after allegedly being shot in the stomach
Maree and Mervyn Schwarz died from gunshots wounds, along with Maree’s son Graham Tighe.
Despite his injuries, Ross Tighe miraculously escaped by jumping into a car and driving 40km to another property to alert police.
Cops rushed to the small rural town in search of the three other alleged victims and gunman.
Queensland Police locked the area down after his call and found the three family members dead on the Shannonvale Road property a few hours later.
Mr Austen, who is Mrs Schwarz’s brother-in-law, told Daily Mail Australia the neighbours had been warring over where the boundary point should be between their two farms.
Graham Tighe bought the property with his mother and stepfather in May last year. He is pictured at a wedding
‘It was a fence line dispute, and it’s been going for many years,’ he said.
‘How it happened in this day and age is beyond me. It’s not America.’
Ross Tighe, who has a one-year-old daughter with partner Kaitlyn, was airlifted to Mackay Hospital in a critical condition, where he was rushed into emergency surgery.
He remained in a stable condition in the intensive care unit and was able to be interviewed by police on Thursday night.
Mr Austen said he was shocked by how the feud allegedly escalated as he paid tribute to his community-oriented loved ones.
‘When we first heard something happened, we thought they were playing silly buggers in Collinsville, but we didn’t realise the outcome which was so severe,’ he said.
‘They were an honest Christian family. They were a bush family who worked seven days a week and had beers on Sundays, participated in events, very community-minded and well-respected in the community.’
‘Just a normal Australian family.’
Maree Schwarz’s brother-in-law Greg Austen said Ross (pictured) is a strong man
People who live around the Bogie region started leaving flowers at the property on Friday morning (pictured)
Pictured: One of the Schwarz-Tighe family’s properties, situated on Sutherland Road
TIMELINE OF BOGIE MASS SHOOTING
May 2021: The Schwarz family buy the 300-square-kilometre Bogie farm for $10million
Thursday, August 4, 2022
9am: Mervyn and Maree Schwarz, and Maree’s sons Graham and Ross Tighe meet neighbours at the boundary lines of their properties. An altercation occurs and all four are allegedly shot.
Ross escapes and makes it to a property several kilometres away where he raises the alarm.
10am: Queensland Police confirm they have sent units to a rural property following reports four people have been shot
11am: Police announce they have located one man some distance from the property and he is being treated for gunshot wounds
An emergency declaration is set up by police and members of the public are told to avoid the area
4pm: Police confirm three people have been found deceased at the Bogie property
Friday, August 5, 2022
7.15am: Queensland Police Acting Superintendent Tom Armitt announces the alleged gunman has been taken into custody
Mr Austen said his nephew-in-law showed incredible courage.
‘Ross has two girls, but he’s OK. I haven’t spoke to him yet because he’s about three hours away, but we’re heading there,’ he said.
‘Ross is a very strong young man.
‘To witness what unfolded in front of him and then to be able to walk back to the car shows real resilience, and I’m sure he won’t forget it for the rest of his life.’
Acting Superintendent Tom Armitt said the man arrested was a ‘long-time resident of the area’.
‘He will be remaining in our custody, and we expect to lay criminal charges in relation to the matter sometime later on this afternoon,’ he said.
Police have released four of the five people that were taken into custody on Thursday night to assist with their inquiries.
Supt. Armitt said two of those persons were involved in a power company, and after taking statements from them, they were released.
He said the three others included the 59-year-old man, his son, and another female family member, who have also since been released.
Police said the sole survivor was in a ‘very distressed state’ when he initially spoke to officers, which led to confusion as police tried to narrow down the area where the alleged shooting took place.
The family only bought the huge 300sqkm plot of land for $10million in May 2021, which is zoned for cattle grazing, breeding and farming purposes.
The purchase – which was made by Mr and Mrs Schwarz, along with Graham Tighe, netted the previous owners a profit of almost $7 million after holding onto the property for just three years.
Property records show Mr Schwarz and Mrs Schwarz, who was then Ms Tighe, bought a livestock farm for $1.8million in Mount Abundance, in the Maranoa region, in December 2003.
The couple married sometime within the next eight years before going into business with Graham to snap up a Bogie cattle grazing plot in October 2011.
Maree Schwarz, who died on Thursday morning, is pictured with one of her grandchildren
Pictured: The entrance to the Schwartz-Tighe property on Friday morning. Flowers could be seen at the gate
Five years later, the trio purchased a $2.6million farm, with land use for sheep breeding or growing grains, at The Gums, west of Tara in the Western Downs region.
Ross Tighe had his second child just 18 months ago. At the time, his doting mother shared a photo online of herself cradling her newborn grandchild with a beaming smile on her face.
Forensic specialists will return to the scenes on Friday morning to continue examining the regions for clues.
Police revealed on Thursday afternoon the rugged terrain had proven difficult to navigate and would pose further challenges throughout the course of the investigation.
Ross Tighe was raced to hospital on Thursday, after driving 40km with a gunshot wound (scene pictured)
The tragedy has rocked the small agricultural town, which is home to just over 200 people.
When word spread throughout the community of a shooting, several of Mrs Schwarz’ friends reached out via social media wishing her well.
‘Hope all are safe,’ one friend wrote on the notice, tagging Mrs Schwarz in her message.’
Whitsunday Regional Councillor Jan Clifford said ‘everybody knows everyone else’ in their ‘little village’, adding the community would be ‘devastated’.
‘To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever happened in the Whitsunday region before.
‘We are all deeply saddened by the tragedy.’