4/28/1996 - Sadly, the fatal formula ... a bonkers individual + a deadly weapon = mayhem ... is proved to be true again, and international, as a demented 28-year-old named Martin John Bryant, shoots up Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia, in the third-deadliest lone gunman rampage in criminal history (so far!).
Sometimes It Doesn't Take A Shrink To Know!
Before - 26 Months
Born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1967, there are many early signs that Bryant isn't playing with a full deck ... toys are constantly smashed to pieces, his own mother calls him "annoying" and "difficult," a child psychologist predicts he will never be able to hold down a job because he is constantly aggravating people, he pulls the snorkel out of a boy's mouth while diving, cuts down a neighbor's tree that he thinks is a bother, is described by his teachers as being distant from reality and disruptive in class, violently bullies and teases younger children, and tortures small animals when given the opportunity. Assessed by a psychiatrist as having the mind of an 11-year-old and an IQ of only 66, Bryant receives a disability pension because as the doctor states, "Cannot read or write. Does a bit of gardening and watches TV ... Only his parents' efforts prevent further deterioration. Could be schizophrenic and parents face a bleak future with him." Indeed!
Martin And His Mom
The Menace Years Begin!
Making things worse, in 1987, while looking for new customers for the lawn mowing service he is allowed to run, 19-year-old Bryant hooks up with 54-year-old Tattersall's lottery fortune heiress and recluse, Helen Mary Elizabeth Harvey ... a nut herself, with fourteen dogs living in her mansion and forty cats residing in the garage. Starting with odd jobs about the house, Bryant is soon a regular at Harvey's estate, and takes up residence there later in the year (and his father gets the contract to clean up the mansion when authorities crack down on the place being a health hazard). As a "couple," in three years they buy over thirty new cars, shop and lunch almost every day, get in three car crashes (each caused by Bryant grabbing the steering wheel for "fun" ... Harvey tells friends that Bryant car antics are the reason she never drives over 60 mph), and buy a farm outside of Copping, Tasmania (while there, Bryant shows his madness has not abated ... he fires an air gun at folks that stop at a stall on the highway to buy freshly picked apples, and late at night, he wanders about on neighbors' properties, shooting at dogs when they bark at him ... people in the area that get to know him, give him a wide berth at all times). For the most part out of everyone's hair on the farm, things change for the worse when, with Bryant in the car and Harvey at the wheel (the car also contains three dogs, two of which won't survive the day), driving on a straight road with good visibility on a late October afternoon, the pair veer across a road in their Mazada 121 and get into a head-on collison a Ford sedan that kills Harvey (her neck is broken in the crash), and sends Bryant to the hospital for seven months with neck and back injuries (police briefly investigate, but don't place any blame for the accident on Bryant).
Martin, Father Maurice, And Sister Lindy
Whatever the cause, named sole beneficiary (with his father the document's trustee) in Harvey's will, Martin inherits a fortune with his lady friend's death ... with his dad appointed trustee to make sure the money is spent properly. Making sure that is until in 1993, when Maurice Bryant goes to do some work on his son's Copping farm, and vanishes, apparently leaving behind a note pinned to the front door that just says, "CALL THE POLICE!" Police called, two days later Bryant's father's body is found submerged in a dammed area behind the farmhouse with his diving weights wrapped around his neck, and eighteen 30mg doses of the anti-depressant drug Serepax missing from a strip of the medications. The death is ruled a suicide. Whether it is that, or the younger Bryant removing his father to get at his assets, the death leaves the nutcase with no one to keep him in check and he starts manifesting the madness in his mind by wearing outlandish outfits (many notice him in an electric blue suit with flared trousers, a ruffled shirt, a Panama hat, and lizard skin shoes, carrying a fine leather briefcase ... and laugh!), traveling excessively (hating the countries, but enjoying the flights there and back, he goes overseas fourteen times, visiting Europe six times, the United States three times, southeast Asia three times, New Zealand once, and Japan once, takes one trip entirely around the world, and regularly jets up to Melbourne to visit the city's zoo), becoming a drunk (by the time of the massacre, he is drinking half a bottle of Sambuca, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, port wine, and other sweet alcoholic liquors daily), and buying a large arsenal of weapons and ammunition. Growing worse daily, he also builds up a hatred of the Martin Family of Port Arthur, David and Noelene, believing their buying of a bed-and-breakfast property known as "The Seascape" that Maurice Byrant also wanted, drove his father to suicide.
Everything boils over on 4/28/1996. Prepared for his day, Bryant leaves his home at 9:47 in the morning, hits the road, and is in Port Arthur by 11:00 ... his first stop is dealing with the Martins at The Seascape (both are stabbed and shot). Martins murdered, Bryant then drives into town and has lunch on the deck at the Broad Arrow Cafe at the historic Port Arthur site (where prisoners from Europe were unloaded). Meal done, he goes inside the cafe and returns his tray, holding the door for several people leaving the building, and then pulls a Colt AR-15 SP1 Carbine with Colt scope and a 30-round magazine from the bag he is carrying and goes to work again. Pop ... pop ... pop ... pop ... pop, in approximately two minutes time, Bryant walks about the diner and attached souvenir store firing at tourists and locals enjoying a meal, waiting on tour buses, or with tickets for the next ferry ride ... twenty-nine rounds that kill 18 people and wound another 12. Women, children, men, teenagers, seniors, black or white, locals or visitors from other countries, it doesn't matter (several men are killed placing themselves between Bryant and family members) ... on this day, the wrong place at the wrong time is all that counts.
The Broad Arrow Cafe Crime Scene
Parking Lot Area (Cafe Is In Background)
Helicopter Ride For One Of The Wounded
Reloading, Bryant then goes outside and starts firing at people in the parking lot (in the slaughter that takes place outside, he changes weapons and begins shooting people with a FN FAL semi-automatic rifle) ... new carnage that kills four more people and wounds five others. Done with the harbor tourist area, Bryant then gets in his car and drives away in search of more deaths ... which he quickly instigates. Seeing Nanette Mikac and her two young daughters, Madeline (3) and Alannah (6), fleeing down the road and 300 yards away from the scene, Bryant slows down and approaches them as if offering the help of a ride ... then kills the trio (Shooting Nanette in the head after she pleads with the killer to not hurt her "babies," and killing Alannah after chasing the terrified girl around a tree ... three-year-old Madeline will be his youngest victim). Moving forward 200 yards to the toll booth that controls access to the area, Bryant murders four more people carjacking the gold BMW they had been driving. Wounding a person that drives up to the toll booth, the maniac transfers his equipment from his yellow Volvo to the BMW, and then sets off again.
The Abandoned Volvo
Further up the road, Bryant stops at a service station and attacks two people in a white Toyota Corolla ... killing Zoe Hall and kidnapping the girl's boyfriend, driver Glenn Pears (who he puts in the trunk of the BMW before driving off again, headed back to The Seascape). On the drive to the bed-and breakfast, the maniac shoots out the front windshield of passing red Ford Falcon, then upon his arrival at The Seascape, enjoying this new past time, stands in the driveway and shoots up four more passing vehicles, wounding five more people in the process. Done on the road, Bryant takes Pears out of the car and into the house, handcuffing him to the stairs to the second floor, sets the BMW on fire, and prepares to engage the police when they arrive. It is roughly 2:00 in the afternoon.
The first officers to arrive at The Seascape, Paul Hyland and Garry Whittle, are greeted by Bryant rifle fire that pins them in a nearby ditch (using shields and other protective equipment, they will eventually be rescues unhurt later that evening). Inside, Bryant takes a call from an local ABC affiliate calling numbers randomly in the area to try to get reports on what is happening, and tells the woman on the other end that "lots of fun" is going on, and that he will kill Pears if she calls again (she does not call again). Enjoying his short talk, he calls the local police station and talks to the dispatcher there, telling the woman her cop boyfriend is okay and that he wants a helicopter and then plane to take him to Adelaide, Australia ... or of course, he will kill his hostage. Not going to happen, especially in light of all the murders, an 18-hour standoff ensues, during which Bryant kills his only real bargaining chip (unaware that the Martins have already been murdered, police do not fire on the home or storm it), shooting Pears in the head.
Special Operation Officers Approach
The next day, tiring of the game (like a bad James Cagney gangster movie, he repeatedly taunts the police to come in and get him), Bryant starts a fire in a guest cottage on the property, hoping that in chaos of the authorities trying to put it out, he can melt away and out of the area. Instead, the only thing that almost melts is Bryant himself ... blaze bigger and quicker than he thought due to his own ammo helping the conflagration, the murderer catches himself on fire and runs screaming from the burning building, tearing off his clothes before he becomes a human piece of charcoal! Carnage complete with Bryant's arrest, 35 people have been murdered and another 23 wounded in what will be called The Port Arthur Massacre ... the 35 are Winifred Joyce Aplin (58), Walter John Bennett (66), Nicole Louise Burgess (17), Sou Leng Chung (32), Elva Rhonda Gaylard (48), Zoe Anne Hall (28), Elizabeth Jayne Howard (26), Mary Elizabeth Howard (57), Mervyn John Howard (55), Ronald Noel Jary (71), Tony Vadivelu Kistan (51), Leslie Dennis Lever (53), Sarah Kate Loughton (15), David Martin (72), Noelene Joyce Martin (69), Pauline Virjeana Masters (49), Alannah Louise Mikac (6), Madeline Grace Mikac (3), Andrew Bruce Mills (39), Peter Brenton Nash (32), Gwenda Joan Neander (67), Moh Yee William Ng (48), Anthony Nightingale (44), Mary Rose Nixon (60), Glenn Roy Pears (35), Russell James Pollard (72), Janette Kathleen Quin (50), Helene Maria Salzmann (50), Robert Graham Salzmann (57), Kate Elizabeth Scott (21), Kevin Vincent Sharp (68), Raymond John Sharp (67), Royce William Thompson (59), and Jason Bernard Winter (29).
Main House And Burnt Down Cottage
The Mikac Family
Tried for his crimes, Bryant is found guilty on all counts, and for each of the people he kills, is sentenced 35 times to life in prison without the possibility of parole (experts will find he's nuts, but aware of right and wrong enough to not warrant an insanity plea), and an additional 1,035 years for all the woundings and other mayhem he caused ... a very long stay behind bars. Currently, the monster talks to the walls (and an occasional guard now and then) at Hobart's Risdon Prison in a specially designed cell near the solitary confinement unit of the prison ... not allowed any visitors beyond his immediate family (his horribly embarrassed mother and sister). Not happy with his accommodations, Bryant has tried to commit suicide eight different times (apparently not trying hard enough!), the last, slashing his throat with a razor blade in March of 2007 ... hopefully, his next attempt will be successful!
2015 - Enjoy Your Stay!
4/28/1996 ... remembering the innocents ... rest in peace!
Mourners Remembering The Lost