A troubled Outback region plagued by out-of-control gangs and warring families has descended into further chaos this week after a man was shot dead with a crossbow.
The 36-year-old victim was rushed to a local health clinic with an arrow wound but died just before midnight on Tuesday in the town of Peppimenarti, about 320km south of Darwin.
Local authorities have struggled to contain the bloodshed across the wider West Daly region in the past few months with full-scale riots breaking out in the nearby community of Wadeye, about 90km west of Peppimenarti, in May.
However much of violence is still continuing and seeping into nearby towns.
Violence has escalated throughout the West Daly region between families and warring gangs in recent months (pictured, gangs of locals armed with axes, hammers and machetes and a crossbow roam the streets of Wadeye)
A man has been shot dead with a crossbow in the troubled remote community of Peppimenarti (pictured), about 320km south of Darwin, on Tuesday
Northern Territory police have since deployed more officers to Peppimenarti following the murder they say is linked to warring families – but so far charges are yet to be laid.
The bolstering of resources includes officers from the Major Crime Squad and the Territory Response Group.
Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Morrissey confirmed in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that an 18-year-old male is now helping police with enquiries.
‘We believe he’s been involved in the incident, but we’re yet to establish his full involvement,’ he said.
The surge in police numbers and government services to the area comes as health workers evacuated Peppimenarti and surrounds in the past few weeks due to safety concerns, ABC reported.
West Daly Regional Council chief executive Matthew Eastham said that council workers and contractors were also being evacuated from the town of about 200 people.
Council services in the community have also completely shut down.
Health staff have evacuated the town due to safety concerns, according to the ABC. Council workers and contractors were also being evacuated from Peppimenarti (pictured, a child’s toy is seen abandoned outside a house in the indigenous community of Peppimenarti)
The majority of the violence in the region has emerged out of the community of Wadeye (pictured, One man seen with an arrow through his forearm believed to be in the rural town of Wadeye)
The latest incident comes after Peppimenarti was rocked by civil unrest, family fighting and even an incident involving gunfire.
In November last year, bullets were allegedly fired in the community, prompting officers to flock to the town. A man was later arrested over the shooting.
In 2020, a family feud resulted in one man shooting another in the chest with an arrow from a compound bow.
The shooter was found guilty of unlawfully causing serious harm and sentenced to time behind bars.
The feud, which broke out after a pet dog was run over, saw family members brawl on Peppimenarti’s basketball court.
Many of those involved in the fighting were armed with steel poles and rocks.
But the obscene violence pales in comparison to the West Daly community of Wadeye – a one-hour drive away.
Wadeye was established to bring remote Aboriginal people together so they could get access to modern facilities.
But the population has doubled over the last 10 years to more than 4000-strong facing mass riots, gangs warfare, arson attacks on family homes, critical food shortages and the displacement of hundreds of terrified residents.
Wadeye is a remote outback township 420 km southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory
The township was developed to bring Aboriginals in remote communities together so they could get access to modern facilities
Famous for its gangs named after heavy metal groups or performers – like the Slayer Mob, Judas Priest Boys, Metallica Mob and, for female locals, the Celine Dion gang, the Kylie Girls and the Madonna Mob – Wadeye has been riven by violence for decades.
Frightening photographs from the township – which is the Northern Territory’s biggest Aboriginal community – have revealed the extent of the war between the tribal rivals.
Likened by some to ‘the Wild West’, the community has seen pitched battles after dark between rival gang members wheeling around the streets and setting houses and vehicles alight.
Gangs of locals armed with axes, hammers, iron bars and machetes have roamed the streets searching for victims, with authorities apparently powerless to stop them.
About 40 houses were torched and abandoned earlier this year, with some armed thugs posing for pictures in front of the burning properties.
About 40 houses in Wadeye were torched and abandoned earlier this year, with some armed thugs stopping during the violence to pose for pictures
Shocking video footage showed locals looting buildings, snatching expensive computer equipment and then jubilantly destroying it.
In June, at least four men were pierced in the arms and legs by arrows that had been fired from crossbows during a violent clash in the town.
Two men were captured pointing the crossbows at each other and firing.
Gruesome images surfaced on social media showing the arrows that pierced the forearm, shoulder and shin of separate victims.
At least four men had arrows shot through their legs and arms in what’s understood to have been a violent clash in Wadeye back in June
Shocking photos taken from the past two months show the reportedly stolen arrows stuck into the men in Wadeye
Almost 20 crossbows and bows, some of which were reportedly used in the violent clash, were stolen from Mitchells Adventure in Darwin, which is seven hours away from Wadeye.
‘We do worry about it. When we do sell these bows you have to be over 18, young individuals are the problem here,’ Mitchells Adventure’s manager Michael Mitchell told a local radio station at the time.
‘We’re looking at getting more protection at the front of our building, but they just don’t care. The cost is just phenomenal and they will find a way of getting in.
‘We’ve all had enough, you go to bed every night worrying your phone will ring and your business has been broken into.’
Two men were captured pointing the crossbows at each other, believed to be in Wadeye
In April, a man died in Wadeye after he was reportedly speared in the head.
Since then the fighting between armed groups of up to 300 people has left dozens injured.
About 500 people out of the township’s population of 4,000 have fled.
About a quarter of the homes in the community have been damaged or destroyed in the violence, many by fire.