A man charged with firearms offences after a shooting that prompted the evacuation of Canberra airport on Sunday has appeared in court.
The man was arrested at the airport after allegedly firing about five shots inside, some leaving bullet holes in terminal windows, at 1.30pm on Sunday.
ACT police said one person was taken into custody and a firearm was recovered after the shooting. No injuries were reported.
On Monday morning, ACT police said a 63-year-old New South Wales man had been charged with firearm offences.
Ali Rachid Ammoun did not apply for bail when appearing via video link in ACT magistrates court on Monday.
He will remain in custody until the case returns to court on 5 September.
Ammoun has been charged with discharging a firearm at a building, unlawful possession of a firearm and discharging a firearm near a person causing alarm.
He is yet to enter a plea.
Police will allege the man arrived at the airport about 1.20pm when he sat on seats near the southern check-in desks on the first floor.
Around 1.25pm, the man allegedly withdrew a firearm and fired a number of shots into the windows of the building, police say.
Police were called to the airport after reports of gunshots. Parts of the airport were locked down while others were evacuated. Planes were grounded.
The airport reopened to passengers about 5pm with management saying it had “resumed normal operations”.
ACT police had earlier said in a statement about 3pm on Sunday: “[One] person was taken into custody and a firearm was recovered.”
“CCTV has been reviewed and at this time the person in custody is believed to be the only person responsible for this incident,” police said.
“The Canberra airport terminal was evacuated as a precaution and the situation at the airport is contained. ACT policing requires members of the public to not attend the airport at this time.”
One witness reported hearing “eight to 10” gunshots while others said it was fewer. There were also reports it was chaotic, with people racing out of the terminal “in a stampede”. Police later said about five shots had been fired.
A large contingent of police was at Canberra airport on Sunday afternoon, with armed AFP officers barring the doors. At least a dozen police vehicles were present, with hundreds of people gathering outside the terminal.
One family told Guardian Australia they heard shooting near the Qantas terminal.
More than a dozen police cars and an ambulance at Canberra airport, after reports of gunshots fired inside the terminal this afternoon. One witness told me they heard “8 to 10 shots”. Hundreds of people outside after the airport was evacuated pic.twitter.com/wJQ8rsdRv7
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) August 14, 2022
“They told us ‘run, run’. It was very scary,” one man, who declined to give his name, said.
ABC reporter Dan Bourchier was on the tarmac at the time and said the plane was held as police did a “security sweep”.
Sitting on the tarmac of Canberra airport - where we are waiting on the plane, the captain just told us the AFP is doing a “security sweep” of the airport after we were told the airport has been evacuated.
— Dan Bourchier (@Dan_Bourchier) August 14, 2022
Four bullet holes could be seen in three large glass windows on the second floor of the airport’s terminal.
Helen, who was flying to Melbourne with her husband, said she saw a man “shooting in the air” not far from the check-in counter. She described the man as middle-aged, “clean cut” and holding a pistol. She said she heard about six shots.
“Security just said ‘run, run’, so we all ran outside,” she said.
Det Acting Supt Dave Craft said on Sunday the man did not appear to have targeted any person in the building. He said the alleged gunman was arrested and taken to a Canberra police station. The man had not been charged when Craft spoke to reporters about 3.30pm.
“I just need to reassure people that the airport is safe, that ACT policing have responded, and there is no ongoing threat to the community or to passengers arriving and departing,” he said.
Another witness, who declined to give his name, said he was putting his property through the security X-ray machine when the shooting started. Security guards yelled at people to leave their items and run. The man said he was worried about getting his phone and wallet back.
Other witnesses claimed they had heard no announcement or alarm over the airport’s PA system and complained there was a lack of immediate information.
“People just flooded out in a stampede. People were getting knocked over,” one woman said. Another update was expected from the police later on Sunday.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said he had been briefed on the airport incident.
The finance minister and ACT senator Katy Gallagher said she had been shocked by the event. “Our local airport is such an important part of the Canberra community and it must have been terrifying for everyone,” she said on Twitter. “Thanks so much to the first responders for keeping everyone safe.”