Police officers praised for courageous action
Police commanders praise officers' actions in Hamilton incident
Courage of the highest calibre is how the Commissioner of Police and Waikato's Police commander are describing the actions of three dog handlers, including one wounded in the line of duty, in a Hamilton supermarket car park earlier today.
Superintendent Bruce Bird said the handlers had followed a fleeing driver seen in the suburb of Nawton driving a stolen van about 11.30am.
"Fortunately the van that was stolen was equipped with a GPS unit and other units were able to converge on where it was travelling to.
"Initial indications on what has occurred is that the offender, a 35-year-old man being sought in connection with an armed incident in Kihikihi yesterday, has abandoned the van in the Mill St Pak 'N' Save car park and confronted a woman with an intent to steal her car."
Mr Bird said at that point the dog handlers intervened and attempted to take the offender to the ground.
"A firearm, believed to be a sawn-off shotgun, being held by the offender has then gone off seriously injuring the offender and also wounding one of the officers.
"Neither injury is considered to be life threatening and both the offender and the injured officer are currently undergoing medical treatment."
While Police secure the scene to allow a forensic examination to be conducted, Commissioner Bush said it was timely to reflect on the courage shown by the three officers who put themselves at risk to protect a member of the public.
“The bravery of these officers in tackling an armed and dangerous offender to keep innocent members of the public from harm is in the finest traditions of the New Zealand Police.
“Credit also goes to all of the other staff involved who helped to resolve this highly dangerous situation.”
Mr Bird said in addition to an investigation into today's and yesterday's events, staff were also working to support the injured officer's family and provide them anything they may need.
"On behalf of the Waikato Police, and the wider public I would like to acknowledge the officer's actions today and those of our staff yesterday and we will look at the most appropriate form of recognition at a later date."
Meanwhile officers conducting the investigation into events over the past two days are appealing for anyone who witnessed what occurred today in the supermarket car park to contact the Hamilton Police.
Investigators are particularly keen to here from anyone in the car park who witnessed the events who left before speaking to Police. Information can be left for the operational team by phoning 07 8586200.