Victorian police are searching for a Porsche driver who fled the scene of a traffic accident in Melbourne, in which four officers were killed. One of the senior constables was female, while the other three officers were male.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said it was the largest single loss of lives in one incident in the history of Victoria Police.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our officers tonight," he said, adding the tragic incident highlighted the dangers of everyday police work.
"All the officers down here…I can tell you there's an eerie quiet down here," he continued. "Everyone down there understands what a tragedy this is for the families of those officers, but it's a tragedy for the whole force," he said.
Commissioner Ashton said police were still working to establish the identity of the Porsche driver and urged the man to give himself up to police.
Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt was visibly shaken and emotional when he spoke to the media, saying he was "floored" by the deaths of the "four dedicated members".
"This is the bread and butter of policing. This isn't stuff that you expect to be killed doing," he said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews hailed the four officers as "heroes", in a statement acknowledging the heartbreak being suffered by the officers' families.
"We grieve alongside them — just as we grieve with every member of Victoria Police and every member of our emergency services family," he said. "In the coming days, formal investigations will tell us why — how — this could possibly have happened.