Four people are dead after one of the first mass shootings in Australia since strict gun laws were brought in after a 1996 massacre. Authorities say a gunman identified as 45-year-old Ben Hoffmann fatally shot four men and wounded at least one woman during an hour-long rampage across Darwin on Tuesday, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Authorities say they are still trying to determine a motive. Hoffman—who had links to outlaw motorcycle gangs—was released from prison in January and was still wearing his electronic monitoring bracelet during the rampage, police say. The gunman, who fired shots in at least five locations, was arrested after he called police and said he wanted to be taken into protective custody. He is the brother of Clinton Hoffmann, a well-known local businessman.
This is the first Australian mass shooting since the 1996 crackdown that involved an illegal firearm and shootings at more than one location, the BBC reports. Mass shootings in New South Wales in 2014 and Western Australia in 2018 both involved a gunman killing family members with legally owned firearms. 9News reports that police believe the shotgun used in Tuesday's shootings could have been stolen as far back as 1997. Associate professor Philip Alpers at the University of Sydney says mass shootings, defined as shootings in which four or more people are killed, are "very unusual in Australia," but the fact that the suspect was "able to obtain such a firearm in his circumstances says we still have a way to go to get guns off the 'grey market'—unregistered guns that were kept by households after 1996." (Read more Australia stories.)