South Australian police pleaded with violent fugitive Rodney Clavell to give himself up peacefully before he was found dead at the end of a 12-hour police siege in Adelaide, South Australian Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Dickson said.
Mr Dickson said it was still not clear whether four women who had been with Clavell in a massage parlour in Adelaide's CBD during the siege were hostages or knew the 46-year-old in any way.
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Fugitive found dead after Adelaide siege
Rodney Clavell has been found dead after a siege, says South Australian Assistant Police Commissioner. Nine News
He said a police robot entered the first floor of the building, where Clavell had been holed up, just before 1pm. The robot located Clavell's body about 1.40pm.
"Unfortunately today's planned activities by the police didn't work out as we had hoped," Mr Dickson said.
Four women had been released about 11.30am after hours of negotiations with Clavell by police through the women. Police tried for hours to end the siege peacefully, Mr Dickson said.
One of the women collapsed to the ground after walking from the building with her hands kept high above her head and became emotionally distressed.
Mr Dickson said police attempted to contact Clavell once the women walked from the building but he did not respond so a police robot was sent in and it appeared Clavell had died. Police officers then entered the building and Clavell had taken his own life. Because of the circumstances his death will be investigated as a death in custody, Mr Dickson said.
He said police had not been able to speak with Clavell directly throughout the siege that began in Marilyn's Studio, which provides 'adult services', in King William Street from 1am on Thursday.
Parts of Adelaide's city centre had been in lock down and public transport services were affected.
A warrant was issued for Clavell, a former prison guard, on May 20 in relation to firearm and other matters.
Mr Dickson said police received a report that Clavell had assaulted a woman in a park and was in possession of a shotgun on May 25. He said for the past 14 days it was believed that Clavell had been involved in other offences while police searched for him.
The women who were in the building with Clavell have not yet given statements to police. Mr Dickson said it was therefore not clear if they had been held against their will. Regardless, Mr Dickson said the women had all "had a fairly harrowing experience".
Police appeal to Rodney Clavell
Police are appealing to fugitive Rodney Clavell to give up peacefully, after he holed himself up in a building in the Adelaide CBD. Nine News.
South Australian Police Minister Tony Piccolo earlier confirmed Clavell's death in South Australia's Parliament.
A decade ago, Clavell was involved in a shoot-out with police.
A close friend of his told the media on Thursday that the fugitive was armed with a .22 rifle and ammunition and had vowed to kill police if he was cornered.
In 2004, Clavell used a 12-tonne grader to flee from police. He was shot twice and Tasered by STAR Group officers after the 46km chase through the Adelaide Hills.
The woman told Advertiser.com.au that she had dropped Clavell off at the massage parlour on Monday morning, and that he would not surrender to police “because he knows they are going to kill him’’.
“He thinks they have it in for him, he will take police out,’’ she was quoted as saying.
“He knows he won’t survive this alive today.
“We discussed the fact that innocent people should not be hurt, people who have not been wronged by him should not be affected by this.’’
Superintendent Peter Harvey had earlier acknowledged Clavell’s violent past but said he had served his time for that.
‘‘It’s nothing to do with today except to remind us of his propensity for violence,’’ Superintendent Harvey said.
‘‘We have been aware for 14 days that he is armed, so we treat him at the highest level of risk. What you see today is unprecedented for Adelaide.’’
Mex Cooper, Patrick Hatch, AAP
For help or information visit beyondblue.org.au, call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251, or Lifeline on 131 114.