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Rodney Dale spelled out Satan with his own blood on the wall of his Burleigh Heads unit.

The Satanic Slayer: Flashback to mass shooting

HE was dubbed 'The Satanic Slayer'. A Gold Coast man who thought he would achieve immortality by shooting people and following Satan. This is how Rodney Dale turned a sleepy Saturday afternoon in Burleigh Heads into 15 minutes of terror.

 

"GONE hunting, love Rodney, XXXXX"

Satanist Rodney John Dale, 26, wrote that note to his girlfriend, before carving 666 into the webbing of his hands, smearing SATAN in blood on the wall of his Burleigh Heads unit, picking up a balaclava, a .223 calibre, semiautomatic rifle and a shotgun and unleashing hell fire.

He was dubbed 'The Satanic Slayer'. Dale thought he would achieve immortality by shooting people and following Satan.

It was a sleepy Saturday afternoon in Burleigh Heads, kids were playing in the street, a wedding party was heading off for their vows, 100 metres away the Bundaberg Rum Surf Masters was being held. People were going about their day, when gunshots began ringing out from the high powered rifle.

Rodney Dale spelled out Satan with his own blood on the wall of his Burleigh Heads unit.
Rodney Dale spelled out Satan with his own blood on the wall of his Burleigh Heads unit.

Three weeks before the shooting, Dale had quit his job as a panel beater and begun planning his massacre. In those three weeks before gunshots broke the silence of a sleepy Saturday afternoon on April 7, 1990, he bought the rifle and put together his plan.

It was a plan that would see one woman dead and seven others gunned down. It was 15 minutes of madness.

FLASHBACK: JAPANESE CRIME BOSS KILLED

Peter Sorrensen next to a bullet hole from the mass shooting at Burleigh Heads, by Rodney Dale.
Peter Sorrensen next to a bullet hole from the mass shooting at Burleigh Heads, by Rodney Dale.

FLASHBACK: COAST'S PETTY CRIME WAVE

About 4pm, Dale walked out onto his balcony and began firing at people on the street and into a nearby caravan park. He hit one person.

At the time he was described as looking like Rambo - he wore two gun belts, one around his waist, the other slung over his shoulder, dressed all in black.

He then left his Tweed Street unit and wandered down to the street, before opening fire on a woman who had gone onto her balcony to see what was going on, narrowly missing her, showering her in chunks of concrete, her unit peppered with bullets.

He walked down Tweed St, then onto the Gold Coast Highway, shooting both guns indiscriminately, taking off his balaclava, witnesses described him laughing like a maniac. He was heard yelling "children of Satan" and "we'll win, we'll win".

Drew Fisher was working security at the nearby Surf Masters and rushed to the scene when he heard the gunfire with fellow guard John Gooch.

"He was screeching with laughter from the moment he opened fire," Mr Fisher said at the time.

"It was a crazed, madman's laugh."

Mr Fisher and Mr Gooch snuck up behind Dale when they noticed a police officer, not wearing a bulletproof vest, come down the highway.

 

Aerial shot of the scene of the shooting.
Aerial shot of the scene of the shooting.

That officer was Sergeant Bob Baker from Burleigh Heads police station. He had heard the shots from his nearby station and ran towards the danger.

"I was annoyed because my coffee was going cold," Sgt Baker joked at the time.

But it was no laughing matter. What Sgt Baker did saved countless lives and brought down a man at the height of a rampage, with plenty of ammunition left.

"I heard shooting and immediately grabbed a gun," he said.

He walked across the Gold Coast Highway and saw Dale shooting.

"I called to the bloke to put down the gun but he started firing at me," he said at the time.

"I don't know why he didn't hit me. He had a shotgun and normally you wouldn't miss with those.

"I knew if I fired there was no one else I could hurt because he was standing in front of an empty social security office.

"My main worry was that his shots were going past me towards the pub which was full of people.''

Sgt Baker fired on Dale, hitting him with his fourth or fifth shot in the arm. He ran towards Dale as he was trying to reload and hit him in the back of the head with his revolver.

Security guards Drew Fisher and John Gooch ran to his aid and helped wrestle Dale to the ground.

 

Security guard Drew Fisher helped take down Rodney Dale.
Security guard Drew Fisher helped take down Rodney Dale.

FLASHBACK: CRIME UP AS COP NUMBERS FALL

During the chaotic 15 minutes elderly couple Kathleen and Llewellyn Lewis were going for a drive to have a drink, when their car had bullets rain down on them. Both were hit. Mrs Lewis died at the age of 77. Her husband survived.

A wedding party's limousine was riddled with bullets, the driver Raymond Davis, 61, was shot in the arm and hand. Bridesmaid Mandy Winter, 21, was shot in the leg.

Betty Brodby, 66 was shot in the thigh, John Bristow, 27, Jessie Nowlan, 72, and Thelma Harber 75, were also wounded in the chaos.

It was revealed in court in July 1990 that during a recorded interview with police Dale told detectives that he had thought about the rampage for years, that "it was something he had to do". He said he "didn't want to kill women or kids", but he told police "he knew he had to kill someone."

In a bizarre explanation for why he wore a balaclava, he told police it was in case he shot someone he knew.

In July 1991, Dale pleaded guilty to murdering Kathleen Lewis and the attempted murder of 13 other people in Brisbane's Supreme Court. Justice Ambrose sentenced Dale to life in prison on each of the 14 counts and described the crime as "bizarre."

"The fact that others were not killed was more a matter of luck than design on your part.''

He said he doubted Dale would ever be considered for parole if he held to his belief in Satanism.

Sgt Bob Baker shot Rodney Dale, before arresting him.
Sgt Bob Baker shot Rodney Dale, before arresting him.

Outside of court Sgt Baker said that he was not a hero and had just done his duty.

"It was the biggest and heaviest thing I've ever been involved in,'' he said.

"It's still hard to say what went through my mind.

"He fired three shots at me. I could feel them lift my shirt but he missed.''

At the time of Dale's sentencing, the grieving husband of Kathleen Lewis, Llewellyn, who was himself injured in the rampage said Dale should be given the death penalty.

"I believe in an eye for an eye - anybody who kills someone else should face the death penalty,'' Mr Lewis said.

"He'll get TV to look at, he'll have his meals provided for him - not only that, taxpayers pay for that and I'm a taxpayer."

Rodney Dale is still behind bars, currently serving time at the Borallon Training and Correctional Centre in Ipswich.