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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Unfriendly Fire: When Ali Met Canberra Airport Windows

A 63-year-old man named Ali Rachid Ammoun, who fired five shots at the departures area of Canberra Airport in August last year, has been sentenced to a little over three years in prison. The shots caused chaos, leading to the evacuation of the airport and grounding of planes. The incident marked the first time shots had been fired inside an Australian airport.

Ammoun admitted to the charges of shooting at the airport’s windows, causing damage to three of them, and possessing the illegal Smith and Wesson revolver. Court documents revealed that Ammoun had traveled from Sydney to Canberra Airport via taxi on the day of the shooting, which took him three hours.

According to Magistrate Ian Temby, Ammoun had only been in the airport for four minutes before firing the gun, during which he had spoken to a couple sitting nearby.

“I won’t harm you, do not be upset,” Ammoun said.

One of them replied: “Let’s go, let’s go. This man is shooting, it’s a real gun.”

Ammoun then lowered the gun, collected the casings, and sat waiting to be arrested.

The incident led to an evacuation as travellers and staff fled at the sound of the shots, some headed outside and others hid behind counters.

Magistrate Temby described the incident as “an anti-social act of a high order.”

Victims previously told the court how they feared they would be shot as they ran away, amid what Magistrate Temby described as “general chaos”.

Prosecutor Andrew Chatterton said nobody at the airport knew what was happening.

“The shooting caused panic with many people believing it may be a terrorist attack,” he said.

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