Milne Bay provincial police commander (PPC), George Bayagau, told Loop PNG that he clearly saw Baker in a helmet and body armour when they entered the barracks at around 7pm.
“He was dressed like one of the Defence (personnel) and he was the man behind all the instructions,” said Bayagau.
Bayagau and his four officers were evidently outnumbered when around 20 to 50 criminals started a gunfight with them, which lasted for three hours with a number of injuries on both sides.
Apart from Baker, the PPC saw other wanted criminals who he believed were the ring leaders.
“The criminals came in with high-powered rifles, homemade, and they began to terrorise the police personnel and their families.
“The few of us stood our ground and fought back. It was intense. The criminals were firing rapidly towards our buildings, especially where they thought my small unit of officers was. You would think there was a war going on.”
Bayagau said the armed men confidently walked into the barracks and held the residents at gunpoint, ordering them to get out while they looked for the police officers.
Out of the 16 units in the barracks, eight were burnt down, directly affecting nine families, while a young constable suffered pellet wounds to his chest, left arm and eyes.
“He was taken to the hospital; he’s in a stable condition,” said the PPC.
“He stood bravely and confidently with his colleagues and continued firing until we ran out of ammunition and had to withdraw.”
Sadly, during a headcount this morning, the PPC and his officers found out a child and an adult woman were burnt to death when the buildings were set alight.
“We did formalities, their bodies were retrieved and are now at the Alotau Hospital morgue.”
Bayagau said the provincial law and order committee will deliberate this afternoon on the status of the situation.
The PPC says steps need to be taken to assist those who were traumatised and suffered losses during the night.
He also highlighted the challenge facing his force; manpower.
“Our situation here escalated because of no manpower. If we had manpower on the ground, and enough resources, we would counter any situation at any time.”
The PPC admitted that he has less than 100 regular police personnel.
“We only have backup support from the reserve auxiliary but we need to see that the regular is properly beefed up in the province.
“Time has come to change our ways of doing things. We need to protect the province.
“People like Tommy Baker, they have been in and out, and while he’s been doing that, he’s learning. And he’ll certainly hit the weak spots – and he has done that.
“He will continue unless the law comes down hard on him.”