12 Feb 2020

Tauranga shootings: 'They ran away into the bushes to hide'

5:24 pm on 12 February 2020

First published on NZ Herald

A man who was at a house that is now the scene of a homicide investigation was among several people who ran for their lives when gunshots rang out.

As he fled, he could not help but wonder if a girl he had seen at the property had got out safely too.

Bay of Plenty Police have launched a homicide investigation after two men were found dead at a house on Ormsby Lane, in Omanawa near Tauranga, last night.

Authorities were called to the area after a report of gunshots fired shortly after 7.30pm.

A witness told the Herald he got a phone call from a friend last night asking if he could be picked up from the property shortly after the incident.

The man, who did not want to be named, said his friend was among those who had run away.

"I went to pick the guy up after it was all over. He said there were a few people here and they are ran away into the bushes to hide."

His friend had been wondering about what had happened to a girl who was seen at the house.

"He was worried that a girl that was left behind inside was one that was dead. He just said everyone ran away."

Another neighbour saw a child running from the property looking for help after the shooting but it is unclear if it was the girl his friend was worried about.

As the pair drove out of the street, they were met by armed police.

After explaining what they knew and passing on their details, they were allowed to pass through, he said.

Another neighbour said they had heard a large number of shots while walking his dogs last night.

The resident, who spoke on the condition he was not named, said his neighbour was adamant it was an automatic weapon not a semi-automatic.

The man said he was unaware anything untoward had happened until multiple police arrived and cordoned off the road.

"We have been in lockdown ever since and can't leave our properties."

Paul Lasslett is understood to have owned the property.

"I hope it isn't him - we have known each other for a long time and work together when it comes to our water supply."

The man said he had not heard from any occupants from the property since the shooting had come to light.

It is believed up to five people lived at the property where the shooting happened, including possibly a young child.

The resident said there was a caravan, a single-storey house and a large shed occupied by a owner on the property.

The property remained under guard by two Armed Offenders Squad members standing at the front gate today, about 10 metres from a large shed inside the property boundary, he said.

The men's deaths follow a series of brazen tit-for-tat shootings with semi-automatic firearms and a suspected arson in the Bay of Plenty earlier this month.

The Mongols are one of the most notorious bikie gangs in the world and their arrival in the region last year has fuelled simmering tensions with established Tauranga gangs like the Greazy Dogs and the Mongrel Mob.

Police had warned the Australian newcomers, such as the Mongols and Comancheros, would radically change the criminal landscape as they were hardened from inter-gang warfare with firearms.

This story first appeared in the New Zealand Herald