A TE TEKO man was shot dead by police yesterday after discharging a firearm at his family, robbing a Kawerau bank and leading police on a chase through rural roads.
The man, 29, a patched member of the Mongrel Mob, was shot by police near between Braemar Road and Grieve Road after an hour-long chase.
Bay of Plenty District Commander Superintendent Andy McGregor said police received a call at 9am from the family of the man who said he was high on methamphetamine and had discharged a firearm at another family member. They were not harmed.
The offender then entered the Kawerau First Credit Union on Fletcher Ave with a sawn-off shotgun and demanded money.
A police officer sighted the man on a rural road attempting to leave Kawerau in a silver Toyota Hilux double-cab ute and a pursuit began.
“Police attempted to stop the vehicle with light and sirens, it performed a U-turn and made an attempt to ram police vehicles,” said Mr McGregor.
The man then led police on a low-speed chase along the rural roads surrounding Kawerau, Te Teko and Edgecumbe.
As he passed the Te Teko Golf Club shortly before 10am the man stopped and threw the money he had obtained at the credit union out of the vehicle window.
“One of the pursuing units saw cash being dropped out of the car and so he got staff to pick it up,” said Mr McGregor.
“It was a substantial amount of cash, although we are not sure how much yet.”
A police officer yelled and waved his arms urgently at pedestrians and motorists to clear the area as the offender approached the Te Teko shops around 10am via Tahuna Road and continued through the intersection onto Te Teko Road.
Onlookers scrambled to clear the area, but some stood on the side of the road and filmed the man as he drove by.
The man then turned down Otakiri Road and onto Grieve Road, continuing to drive at the speed limit with five police cars in pursuit while other officers formed road blocks and deployed road spikes at strategic points.
Eight police, some armed, blocked traffic and turned cars away on SH 30 near the Military Road turnoff while others headed off the man near Onepu Springs Road.
Police deployed road spikes at various points, but he was not stopped by the spikes and came to a voluntary stop around 10.20am near Grieve Road.
“Armed officers from the armed offenders squad went forward, the offender presented a fire arm at them and discharged a shot,” said Mr McGregor.
“The officers returned fire. They then went forward and administered first aid. But the offender died shortly after at the scene.”
An ambulance was seen passing the police cordon at 10.30am.
Mr McGregor would not say where the offender had been shot on his body, nor how many shots he had taken.
“From the information I know currently, I’m satisfied they (officers) were justified in that shooting,” said Mr McGregor.
The offender was known to police.
“This is an absolutely tragic event and one no police officer wants to deal with,” said Mr McGregor.
“We come to work to keep our community safe and when we use a firearm it is not taken lightly. When this type of incident happens it really has a traumatic impact on our staff.”
Mr McGregor said the police are offering support to the family who are “very upset”.
Mr McGregor said police hope to reopen the road overnight after a kaumatua has blessed the body which remained at the scene all day.
“We hope to carry out a post-mortem after the family has paid their respects,” said Mr McGregor.
There remains some anger in the community about the shooting, just after the press conference a man drove past the police station yelling the police are “murderers”.
“The real story here is they are all murderers, write that,” yelled the man.
Three staff members and a customer were in the credit union at the time of the robbery.
First Credit Union General Manager Simon Scott said the welfare of the company’s Kawerau staff was their main concern.
“Support for First Credit Union staff has been arranged and this will also be offered to the member directly impacted by this event,” said Mr Scott.
The credit union will be shut for the rest of the week and victim support are involved with staff members.
9am: Police receive reports of family harm incident and armed robbery at Kawerau First Credit Union
9.25am: Offender rams police car
9.30am: Police chase under way
9.48am: Offender sighted on Tahuna Road
9.50am: Offender throws stolen money out vehicle window while passing Te Teko Golf Club on Tahuna Road
9.57am: Offender passes through Te Teko township via Tahuna Road and onto Te Teko Road
10.05am: Police pursue offender down Otakiri Road
10.10am: Police continue to pursue the offender down Grieve Road
10.15am: Police form a cordon on State Highway 30 and block traffic from travelling further
10.20am: Shots fired – gunman fires at police and police respond
10.30am: Ambulance passes through police cordon.
10.50am: Offender officially pronounced dead at the scene