Senior Constable Leesa Richardson was savagely beaten by Tyson Jessen as he tried to take her gun.
Senior Constable Leesa Richardson was savagely beaten by Tyson Jessen as he tried to take her gun.

How heroic nurse stopped Ipswich Hospital shooting

A HERO nurse ran in to attack and distract a violent madman to try and protect a police officer who was being savagely beaten, her head repeatedly slammed into the ground, as the man tried to take her gun.

Tyson Jessen, 28, a wanted armed robber, was shot dead by Senior Constable Leesa Richardson - hit by up to three bullets - when he violently attacked her as she guarded him at Ipswich Hospital on November 10.

The Sunday Mail can now reveal the extraordinary details of the incident, with Sen Const. Richardson and the nurse being credited with preventing a potential mass shooting at the hospital.

Jessen, who was being held in custody at Ipswich Watch House, was taken to hospital under police guard after complaining of apparent chest pain. Described as tattooed and solidly built, Jessen had, days earlier, been on the run after a string of armed robberies in Victoria.

Two officers had been watching over him in ward 7D of Ipswich Hospital but one briefly left the room to visit the bathroom, leaving Sen Const. Richardson to watch Jessen alone. It was then that Jessen launched himself at the officer, punching her savagely and repeatedly in the face as he wrestled for her gun.

Sen Const. Richardson, dazed, tried to fight him off. But a nurse, a woman in her 40s who was in charge of the ward, heard the commotion and ran into the room to help.

Jessen turned and punched her in the face with enough force to launch her across the room and into the adjacent hallway. But then, without any regard for her own safety, she bravely got back on her feet and ran in again. By now, Jessen was astride Sen Const. Richardson, slamming her head into the ground as he tried again to grab her gun.

It is understood he was shouting at the police officer that he was going to kill her as they fought for the firearm.

This time, the nurse ran at Jessen, trying to distract him from his brutal assault on Sen Const. Richardson. It worked. The officer managed to draw her weapon and fired up to three shots, killing her attacker.

Tyson Jessen was on the run from Victoria Police and wanted on several warrants in relation to armed robbery offences.
Tyson Jessen was on the run from Victoria Police and wanted on several warrants in relation to armed robbery offences.

The incredible actions of both the nurse and Sen Const. Richardson have been highlighted by the Queensland Police Union in a bid to have the two women recognised nationally for their bravery.

"His level of violence was incredible to behold," a letter penned to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk by QPU president Ian Leavers said. "There is no doubt Sen Const. Richardson demonstrated extreme bravery in defending herself, hospital staff and patients from the prisoner.

"Despite being seriously assaulted herself and thrown from the room, (the nurse) demonstrated unbelievable courage to immediately attempt re-entry of the room to save Sen Const. Richardson."

Mr Leavers said the two women prevented what could have been a shootout in the halls of the Ipswich Hospital.

"It is only imaginable what the likely consequences would have been for Sen Const. Richardson and many others in the hospital if Jessen was successful in gaining possession of the firearm on this night," he said. "(The nurse) was seriously assaulted herself at her first attempt of assistance but again had the unbelievable courage to immediately attempt entry of the room again, at her own peril, to save Sen Const. Richardson.

"It is these actions alone that allowed Sen Const. Richardson the opportunity to resolve the issue in the manner she did."

It is understood Jessen had managed to unclip the holster but was still wrestling to pull out Sen Const. Richardson's Glock pistol.

The Sunday Mail has been told the officer believes that if an auto-locking system hadn't been fitted to her Safariland holster, she and others may have been killed.

Sen Const. Richardson has spent most of her 16 years as a police officer in smaller rural towns, where she had to deal with incidents alone and was usually the only police officer in the area.

The QPU has recommended both women be nominated for the Australian Bravery Awards Cross of Valour.

"(The nurse's) actions clearly warrant the highest bravery honour available and should be nationally recognised by being awarded the Cross of Valour, which is awarded for acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril," Mr Leavers said.

"There can be no other description for the actions undertaken by (the nurse) and Sen Const. Richardson on this evening."

Mr Leavers told The Sunday Mail both women deserved the highest honours for their actions.

"These two remarkable women deserve the highest recognition for their bravery," he said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who yesterday met with the families of fallen officers at the unveiling of Queensland's new police memorial, fully supported Mr Leavers' nomination.

"The Premier received the letter and supports the nominations of these brave women," a spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Of course the Premier supports the recognition of the courage shown in that hospital and the courage shown every day by every single person who pulls on a blue shirt and wears a badge and puts their lives in peril to keep the rest of us safe."

In 2009, Jessen was sentenced to five years in jail, to serve a minimum of three, after he and a group of young men threw petrol on a disabled man and set him alight. Media reports at the time described how a 19-year-old Jessen "fell sobbing onto the front rail of the dock" on hearing his sentence.

His victim, 60-year-old Richard Plotkin, was left with horrific scars and underwent multiple surgeries after spending time in an induced coma.

A Judge said the young men involved were cowards and described their crimes as "shocking, disgraceful and horrifying".