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Man charged over Tauranga firearms incident

Man charged over Tauranga firearms incident

Thursday, 31 July 2014 - 3:59am

At approximately 8.45pm last night (Wednesday, 30 July) police received a driving complaint on SH2 near Katikati. A short time later the vehicle was located stationary at Whakamarama and as police approached the vehicle it drove off towards Tauranga.

A pursuit was initiated and spikes were also used in an attempt to stop the vehicle. At the Baypark roundabout the vehicle lost control and came to rest on the roundabout. Three police officers exited two police vehicles at which point a firearm was discharged in the direction of the officers.

A man from the vehicle headed on foot into Truman Lane as members of the public started to exit Baypark Arena. Witness information is still being collated but at this stage police are aware of attempts to take three vehicles from members of the public at gunpoint.

A staff member at a nearby commercial building has then been confronted by a man with a firearm and a vehicle has been taken. An attempt was made by police to challenge him as he left but the vehicle failed to stop.

The vehicle was then spiked and the officer deploying the spikes had to take action to avoid being struck by the vehicle. Police lost sight of the vehicle and initiated area searches. Approximately 40 minutes later the vehicle was spotted again near the Maungatapu Bridge and another pursuit was initiated. The vehicle was followed onto Marine Parade at which point a firearm was presented out of the driver’s window and it has fallen to the ground. A short time later the vehicle came to a stop and a 32-year-old man from Auckland was arrested by armed officers without further incident.

A firearm was recovered in Marine Parade and both spent and live ammunition was recovered in the area of Baypark.

Area Commander for Western Bay of Plenty, Inspector Clifford Paxton, said: “This was an extremely fast-moving and serious situation. The priority for police staff was to try to contain the situation as quickly as possible and maximize the safety of the community. We are extremely pleased that no-one was injured. Although we have identified a number of members of the public who were confronted in the Baypark area, we want to hear from anyone else who was caught up in the incident and has not yet spoken to police so that we can ensure they receive any welfare support that they might require.”

The arrested man will appear in Tauranga District Court later today charged with using a firearm against a law enforcement officer. Other charges are expected to follow.

Anyone directly affected by this incident or anyone who has any information that may assist the investigation is asked to contact Tauranga Police on 07 577 4300.


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