'I don't feel safe at all': Terrified residents after man killed in shootout

Author
Lincoln Tan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Nov 2021, 8:38PM
Armed police have surrounded a property in Glen Eden. (Photo / Dean Purcell)
Armed police have surrounded a property in Glen Eden. (Photo / Dean Purcell)

'I don't feel safe at all': Terrified residents after man killed in shootout

Author
Lincoln Tan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Nov 2021, 8:38PM

A man has been shot dead by police and four officers are in hospital following two serious West Auckland incidents in the space of just 11 hours.

This morning, police were called to a shooting incident in Glen Eden and an officer was last night struck by a fleeing vehicle while deploying road spikes in New Lynn.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had not been briefed on the shooting because she had been in the Cabinet meeting but she planned to speak to Police Minister Poto Williams.

Ardern said she did not believe police had lost control of law and order in Auckland.

"We have taken direct action to try and reduce the access and nature of firearms that are being accessed in the wider community," Ardern said.

"You'll see that we've moved on licencing, we've removed those weapons that are military-style."

Ardern said authorities had been working to get weapons out the hands of the criminal fraternity, and clamp down on firearms "designed to cause mass devastation".

"We have taken action on firearms. We will continue to do so. The efforts of police have also been very focused on the seizure of both firearms and criminal assets, through a number of operations that have been very successful."

The PM said the Government would keep supporting police in those efforts.

Speaking to media this afternoon, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said four officers are now recovering in hospital as a result of both incidents, two with serious injuries but not life-threatening.

"It's the worst thing you can have in my position. When I heard multiple officers had been shot my heart sank."

Coster said police were today called to an address just after 8am on Glen Eden's Danube Place after reports of a house fire and a man discharging a firearm.

Three police officers have been injured in a dramatic incident in Glen Eden this morning. Photo / Dean Purcell

They tried to engage the man to disarm but over 30 minutes of negotiating he became increasingly agitated and aggressive.

Coster said residents of neighbouring properties were evacuated and a police dog and "distraction devices" were also deployed.

"The situation escalated further when the man fired at police and officers returned fire, incapacitating him," Coster said.

"Our staff delivered first aid to the man but, tragically, he died at the scene. Our people come to work every day to keep people safe and this is the last thing we want."

A neighbour of the man killed in the shootout has described the incident as shocking, saying there had been no previous issue with him.

The woman, who did not want to be named, told the Herald she lived near the house where the man was shot dead this morning.

She said the man was in his 60s and he had lived alone at the property, owned by Kainga Ora, for a few years. She said there had been no previous issues with the man and his death has been shocking and sad.

The woman said he had mentioned to her that he had "got into a bit of trouble with some people recently".

Another neighbour, who gave her name only as Elina, said she didn't know who the man was but was told by police he was 53 years old.

She said it appeared neighbours had approached the house while it was on fire before "scrambling back" which she suspected was as a result of the man's actions.

"It was really terrible," Elina said.

After witnessing the chaos of this morning, Elina said it had added to her growing sense of unease being in the West Auckland community.

"I wish I had not seen what I saw today. I don't feel safe, I don't feel safe at all."

A mother of two young children, Elina said she would be keeping both her children home from school this week as a result of what happened.

Today's shooting has sparked fresh calls from the police union for frontline officers to be routinely armed.

A Police officer stands guard at a cordon in Glen Eden this morning. Photo / Dean Purcell

A Herald reporter at the scene said only charred remains can be seen of the house on Danube Lane.

Residents have finally been allowed back into their homes after more than six hours as police take down the cordon at the top of Maywood Crescent.

Forensics are still at the scene at 4.30pm and cordons remain on the corner of Danube Lane and a dozen police staff are still patrolling the area and speaking with residents.

One woman said she and her husband ran down to the house when they saw it on fire, worried about people they knew who lived nearby. They heard gunshots and ran back home before police arrived.

Police now have commenced a critical incident investigation, and the Independent Police Conduct Authority and WorkSafe have been notified as is standard practice.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the increased use of firearms in Auckland in recent months has caused real concern in the community, particularly in the south and the west.

"Many of the shootings are gang-related and, together with the community, I have zero tolerance for those who deliberately and recklessly put the lives of others at risk through their criminal activities," Goff said.

"I support the use of the full sanction of the law against those committing crimes involving the use of guns."

Goff said he has been in contact with the Minister of Police and Auckland's District Commanders to express his concerns, especially around gun violence and gang-related crime.

"I support actions taken by the government to date to tighten the law around access to firearms and work underway to further strengthen gun control legislation before the end of the year," he said.

"Our thoughts are with the three officers injured in Glen Eden this morning. We wish them a fast recovery and thank the Police Force for putting themselves at risk to protect the community, and for the courage and professionalism they show in carrying out their duties."

This afternoon, a National Party spokeswoman said its MPs will not be making any comments in the media about any issue until after Caucus meets tomorrow to confirm a new leader.

However, National's police spokesman, Simeon Brown, tweeted that the increasing violence against police "is a worrying trend".

"Frontline Police are being put under significant danger under this soft-on-crime Labour Govt," he said.

"The Govt needs to stop pandering to gangs and criminals, and start taking law and order seriously."

Police at the scene near Danube Lane. Photo / Dean Purcell

National MP Mark Mitchell, who spent 13 years as a police officer, tweeted that policing was becoming "more and more dangerous".

"My thoughts are with the family of the Police officer who was run down in New Lynn last night and the two police officers shot today," Mitchell said.

"Policing under the leadership of Minister Poto Williams and Police Commissioner Andy Coster is becoming more and more dangerous. Step up and lead."

Police Minister Poto Williams said her thoughts were with "the officers impacted by the events of this morning".

"I try to call every officer who gets seriously injured on duty. These are not calls I want to have to make."

Police Association vice-president Mike McRandle said the officers who attended today's shooting had attempted to resolve it calmly, but matters escalated to the point they had to respond.

"It is dreadful that a person has died, and also it is an enormous strain on the officers put in a position of having to return fire," McRandle said.

"Using lethal force is the most difficult decision for a police officer and has long-lasting ramifications."

McRandle said today's shooting was yet another example of the "terrible consequences" of the proliferation of easily accessible firearms throughout New Zealand communities.

He cited the Herald's article today highlighting the 900 firearms incidents already reported in parts of Auckland this year.

Police were responding daily to gun violence, armed robberies, carjackings and inter-gang warfare with firearms involved, and police officers were also being shot at.

"We are witnessing a policing environment that is progressively more and more dangerous and it is no surprise to the association that the majority of its constabulary members believe they need to be armed."

Dramatic video footage captured by residents showed how this morning's event unfolded.

At one point, officers can be seen rushing towards the property before taking cover behind police vehicles and a small truck parked on the road.

Another video shows several police officers - armed with rifles pointed at the house - lining up behind each other before moving in.

Multiple shots can be heard at times, a dog barking and yelling from Police for residents to get in inside, as well as to the man at the centre of the incident.

Later on, officers can be seen helping one of their colleagues from the property before they are then spotted performing CPR, doing chest compressions as an ambulance arrives.

As the video ends the officers can be seen still working on the injured person, not letting up their lifesaving efforts.

MP for Kelston Carmel Sepuloni said she has spoken to the chairperson of the Glen Eden Residents' Association and reached out to local police to express her appreciation for their work and pass on her regards to the officers involved.

"My thoughts are with all of the people injured in Glen Eden today and the wider community who are understandably feeling shaken by what has occurred," she said.

There has been a lot of debate since Constable Matthew Hunt died last year about whether police officers should be armed as they respond to a growing number of gun-violence incidents.

Williams has been opposed to the general arming of police, saying it was a stance based on feedback she had received from Māori, Pasifika and South Auckland communities who she claimed were against general arming.

Coster has also dismissed the calls for all frontline officers to be armed.

Instead, in September, he announced a new tactical response team in response to increasing violence against officers.

More police will have armed offender squad training as part of a $45 million Government investment in frontline officers' safety.

At the time of the announcement in September, Coster said Hunt's death was the driving force for a complete rethink of frontline safety.

The proposed model means more than 200 additional police officers will be qualified at the armed offender squad standard. Currently there are 300 members of the Armed Offenders Squad.

Current tactical training to frontline staff has also been doubled from 3.5 to 7.5 days per year.