Bogie shooting victims remembered as accused of murder

Written by Javed Iqbal

The glue that held grass educators Mervyn and Maree Schwarz and sons Graham and Ross Tighe together also drew in all those who knew them.

This magnetic trajectory has been repeatedly described by shell-shocked friends and associates following the execution-like killing of three members of the family on their cattle property in Bogie, west of Bowen, this week.

“You won’t find many families that are that close together and that work as hard as they did,” Queensland grazier Warren Drynan said.

A man wearing a cowboy and a green shirt sits on the ground and holds a glass bottle
Graham Tighe died after a shooting incident at a Bogie property.(Facebook)

Schwarz, 71, Mrs Schwarz, 59, and son Graham John Tighe, 35, were shot dead with a rifle, allegedly by their neighbor Darryl Young, 59, at the gate of their Shannonvale Rd property on Thursday morning.

Police claim they had met to discuss a property dispute.

Sole survivor Ross Tighe, 30, remains in hospital recovering from a gunshot wound to the stomach.

Incredibly, he managed to escape, get into a nearby car and drive 40 kilometers to raise the alarm.

Young, a permanent resident, has been charged with three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Four people sit in a row.  Three have their faces obscured.  The fourth is a man wearing a light blue polo shirt.
Darryl Young (right) has been charged with murder.(Delivered)

He remains in custody awaiting his first appearance before a judge on Monday.

The family had been at the property to muster cattle on the day of the fatal shootings.

The expansive Bogie farm where the tragic shooting happened was purchased just last year for $10 million, according to property records.

A bunch of flowers sit by the side of a country road.
A floral tribute was left at the junction of Normanby and Peter Delemothe roads.(ABC News: Baz Ruddick)

It is just west of Bowen, halfway to the mining town of Collinsville.

The property, known as Shannonvale Station, was owned by the same family from the 1930s to the early 2000s and then had five previous owners before the Schwarz family came to town just months ago.

The 29,856 hectare Shannonvale Rd cattle property was bought in equal shares by Mr and Mrs Schwarz and Graham Tighe.

Graham is the father of two young children, one just a few weeks old.

The ABC has been told Graham lived on the Bogie property, while Mr and Mrs Schwarz lived on another large farm at The Gums, closer to the town of Tara.

A man smiles next to a woman whose face has been blurred.
Ross Tighe is recovering in hospital.(Facebook)

That address, known as Doonkoona, includes 1,961 hectares of grazing land on Humbug Rd, which they bought in 2016 for $2.6 million.

Ross Tighe has lived not far from Roma.

It is understood many family members are now traveling to be with Ross as he recovers.

But with large extended families from previous marriages, Merv and Maree’s children have been left to put the pieces together, with separate family groups joining together to support each other.

The family declined to speak to the ABC.

Terrible deaths due to gold rush

Bogie is rough cattle country.

Many came to the area during the gold rush of the 1800s, and some residents still believe their properties could hold a jackpot of gold underground.

A herd of cattle stands in a dry paddock
Bogie is described as rough cattle country.(ABC News: Baz Ruddick)

Dirt roads and cattle grids connect properties tens of kilometers apart.

Many borders are “give and take” perimeters, locals told the ABC.

Only 37 families call the 3,858 square kilometer locality – the size of Singapore, Samoa and the Maldives combined – home.

It was at the front gate of Shannonvale Station, in thick scrub, an hour and a half down a dirt track off the main road to Collinsville, where tragedy struck on Thursday morning.

Police tape is strung between two trees across a country road
Police cordoned off Normanby Road while they investigated the shooting.(ABC News: Baz Ruddick)

Police say it was a request to meet that drew the family to the front gate along with their neighbor Mr. Young.

“We understand there was a conversation that took place the night before which was the reason the parties had met at the gate of the property in the morning,” Acting Superintendent Tom Armitt said.

“There was an invitation [from the alleged gunman] for them to go there.”

One local said disputes over boundaries and cattle had been going on in Bogie for “years and years and years”.

“It’s just rotten around there,” he said.

A family unit like no other

Warren Drynan bought his property in Jackson North, east of Roma, from the Schwarz family in 2014.

He said Ross and Graham had helped build some fences on the farm known as Noonga shortly after the sale.

Drynan never forgot the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Schwarz and the hardworking nature of the boys.

He said the close-knit family had long held large parcels of farmland throughout Queensland.

The Graziers said the family developed properties that many thought were too difficult to improve before turning a profit and moving on to the next project.

“They would take on anything,” Mr Drynan said.

“What [Mervyn] liked to do was find these run down places, clear them, improve pastures.

“He was just that person, Merv and Maree and the two boys, they were a family unit who worked hard and long hours.”

Even years later, Mr. Schwarz would always stop and have a chat if he saw Mr. Drynan at cattle meets.

“We weren’t real social friends by any means, but he was just that person that once you got to know him, you could always have a yarn,” Drynan said.

Other people called Mr. Schwarz a “scallywag” and said he was a joker, and one of his main gags was about his signature, a finger and a toe attached to his right hand after a farming accident.

“He would always make a joke about shaking your hand,” Mr Drynan said.

“Merv was really just so happy go lucky, the kind of guy who wore his heart on his sleeve,” recalled another grass man from Tara.

A woman cradles a baby.
Maree Schwarz has been remembered as a “lovely person”.(Facebook)

Mrs Schwarz is remembered by many as a “lovely person”.

On social media, she cradles a new grandchild with a beaming smile.

“She’s beautiful,” she says to a friend in a comment.

While one of Graham’s close friends described the father-of-two as “a top guy who was a bit rough around the edges”.

“He was always up to something good, had a crazy idea and was just a damn good rider,” he said.

“I learned more from that family than I could possibly explain.”

Drynan, like many lawn workers, was shaken by the killings.

He said the family were “not aggressive” people.

“I just don’t know how the hell that could happen,” he said.

Ms Schwarz’s brother-in-law, Greg Austen, said the family had previously lived in Kilcummin, near Clermont in central Queensland, and were well-loved and respected members of the community.

“They were great, down-to-earth typical country people,” he said.

“It was typical pumpkin scones and a few beers on a Friday.”

Austen, an Isaac Regional Council councillor, said his children, along with Graham and Ross, would regularly round up cattle.

“They were very close to them,” he said.

“My family is beautiful … in shock. We’re pulling together and sticking together.”

Sole survivor ‘up and talking’

A man and woman stand together under a wooden sign with the words "Country pub".
Ross Tighe suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach.(Facebook)

Austen said it was an “incredible feat of strength and courage” by Ross to flee the scene, which ultimately led to his survival.

“It was very strong of him to do that, to go that far and sound the alarm,” he said.

Ross was flown by helicopter to Mackay Base Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

“He’s all right,” said Mr. Austen.

“He’s not out of the hospital, but he’s out of surgery. He’s up and talking.

“But he has many difficulties ahead of him, I imagine.”

Angel Flight CEO Marjorie Pagani told the ABC the service would help family members of the shooting victims return to Mackay, at the request of Bob Katter’s office.

A road sign gives directions and distances to Bowen and Collinsville
Police were called to a shooting at a property between Collinsville and Bowen.(ABC News: Baz Ruddick)

Tragic story unravels

Whitsunday regional councilor Mike Brunker said the council would assist police in their investigation.

“I think as the story unravels, it’s just going to be a very sad, tragic story,” he said.

Burdekin MP Dale Last, whose electorate takes in Collinsville and Bogie, said nothing like this had happened in the community in recent times.

“There are a lot of residents and property owners in the area and to think something like this could happen in their backyard just sent a shock wave through the whole area,” he said.

“But places like Collinsville are very resilient.”

An old rusty ute sits in long grass in a paddock
Dale Last says rural areas are in shock.(ABC News: Baz Ruddick)

He said the community had been through a lot in recent years and they pulled together when times were tough.

Brunker said he immediately thought of the United States when he heard about the shooting, not his own region.

“The last thing on your mind is the Bogie community, the remote properties,” he said.

Bogie grazier Bob Gaadie said the community may have been dispersed but the incident hit everyone hard.

“It may be 50 to 60 kilometers away, but it’s still your doorstep,” he said.

A police vehicle sits in the middle of a country road with police tape in the foreground
Police cordoned off Normanby Road while they investigated the shooting.(ABC News: Baz Ruddick)

The police investigation into the deaths is ongoing and detectives are asking anyone who may have had interactions with the alleged gunman in the past two months to contact them.

Mr Young will appear in Proserpine Magistrates Court on Monday.

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Javed Iqbal

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