Shots fired at police during Poatina chase

HEAVILY armed police including an elite specialist unit swarmed the sleepy mountain region of Poatina yesterday after officers allegedly came under fire during a car chase. 

About 50 officers,  a police helicopter and an armoured truck were involved in the operation in what became a five-hour manhunt.

Police said they tried to intercept a man, 25, and a woman, 26, travelling in a Ford sedan near Arthurs Lake Road at day break. 

This was unsuccessful  and road spikes were deployed.

The couple, both of Ravenswood, managed to travel  another 25 kilometres in the car on  two punctured tyres,  police said.

The car lost control travelling down Poatina Hill and crashed while going around a hairpin corner.

Detectives allege that a police car pursuing the couple was then fired at by the male.

Launceston CIB Detective Inspector Scott Flude alleged the man fired again at police.

Nobody was injured in the ordeal.

``Shortly after that the person with the shotgun and a female . . . have left the scene and entered bushland on the side of the Poatina Hill,'' Detective Inspector Flude said.

``As a result of that police commenced a search of the area using local units, the police helicopter, special operations group and members of the CIB.

``It was a very large area up there, open farmland and we spoke to the locals about being vigilant and on the lookout for anyone who may be traversing that land.''

Nearby Poatina Village, with a population of about 200, was locked down with residents told to leave if they felt unsafe.

Police then cordoned off the area closing parts of Poatina Road.

Nobody was allowed in and vehicles coming out were searched by officers in bullet-proof vests at police road blocks. 

``About 11.30 this morning both people were sighted as they came back on to the roadway on the Poatina Hill. They were approached by members of the special operations group and subsequently arrested,'' Detective Inspector Flude said.

He said it was disappointing that the couple apparently took and posted ``selfies'' on Facebook during the ordeal. 

Poatina residents had known something was amiss in their quiet locale when police with guns drawn pulled over a log truck.

Long-term resident Michael Cleary said the village was notified of the search about 7am.

Householders were told to lock up their homes and those who felt unsafe could leave.

Some took up the offer.

However Mr Cleary said most people stayed and were rather bemused at the new-found interest in the old hydro village. 

``These things affect different people different ways,'' he said.

``Some people were I think a bit alarmed. One young lady, one of our high schoolers, was heard to say, `finally something's happening in Poatina'.''

Residents were told about 11.45am that the couple had been arrested. 

The couple were taken to Launceston police headquarters to assist detectives with their inquiries. 

Police said they had charged the couple with assault. 

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