A 95-year-old great-grandmother is in hospital fighting for her life after allegedly being Tasered by police at an aged care facility in Cooma, south of Canberra.
A friend of the family said Clare Nowland was Tasered twice, once in the back and once in the front after officers went to the facility, Yallambee Lodge.
She had bruising in both places, the family friend said.
The town was utterly shocked, the woman's parish priest said. "No way would you ever pick up that she was anything but a beautiful soul - that's the lady that everyone knows her as," Father Mark Croker said.
Officers went to the facility after they were called by staff on Wednesday night. There, they found Ms Nowland with a knife, according to Andrew Thaler who had spoken to the family and who said he was authorised to speak on their behalf.
Mr Thaler said it was not clear that Ms Nowland was threatening police safety. She may have been carrying a knife simply to eat, he said.
Staff at the aged care home said they couldn't comment.
Ms Nowland was taken to Cooma District Hospital, where her condition is being monitored. She is believed to be very seriously ill, with family at her bedside.
Police are not providing details of the incident, but have said they are investigating the circumstances surrounding it. It is likely that an outside force has been called in to investigate the incident and how a 95-year-old woman was Tasered.
"A critical incident investigation has been launched after an elderly woman sustained injuries during an interaction with police at an aged care facility in the state's south," the police said in a statement.
"A critical incident team will now investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident. That investigation will be subject to independent review. No further details are available at this time."
People in Cooma said that Ms Nowland was very well-liked. She had run the local branch of Vinnies. Before the incident, prayers had been said for her at St Patrick's church.
At the age of 80, she did a sky dive to celebrate her birthday.
Father Croker said: "Clare Nowland has been here for many years, she is a wonderful parishioner here at St Patrick's Family Parish.
"I've visited her at the nursing home - I sat with her last at her bedside last week.
"No way would you ever pick up that she was anything but a beautiful soul - that's the lady that everyone knows her as.
"I just can't imagine it - the shock of it is the age of the lady - she is frail and aged.
"The Nowlands are a big family in Cooma - this is the last thing they expected to happen to their 95 year-old grandmother. They are distraught," a friend of the family said."
Snowy Monaro Regional Council confirmed "an incident occurred at the Yallambee Lodge aged care facility on Wednesday, May 17, 2023".
"Council are supporting our staff, residents and families during this difficult time. No further comment is available at the current time due to the ongoing investigation, and out of respect for the privacy of those involved," the council said in a statement.