19 Jun 2020

Fatal officer shooting: 'Our priority is to hold this offender to account'

6:29 pm on 19 June 2020

Auckland police will remain armed until they are "satisfied the right people are in custody" following the fatal shooting of an officer earlier today, says Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.

Officers at the scene of a police shooting in Massey, Wellington, 19 June 2020.

Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

The male police officer died in a shooting after a routine traffic stop in the West Auckland suburb of Massey this morning. A second officer who was also shot is in a stable condition in hospital.

In a news conference held late this afternoon, Coster said police are speaking to "two people of interest" after the fatal shooting.

He said a firearm had been recovered.

The two officers were shot during the incident that happened at around 10.30am on Reynella Drive in Massey.

Coster said multiple shots from a long barrelled firearm were fired at the officers after they approached a vehicle that had crashed after they had tried to pull it over.

He said a "large number of police from across Tāmaki Makaurau" as well as the Armed Offenders Squad were involved in the hunt for the perpetrators.

"Our priority is to hold this offender to account," Coster said.

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Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says it's a terrible day for police. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

The incident saw several schools and pre-schools in Massey locked down while police and other emergency services descended on the suburb.

Coster confirmed the police officer's death at an earlier media briefing in Wellington this afternoon.

He described the death as shocking and said it was a terrible day.

A member of the public who was hit by a fleeing vehcile has minor injuries.

"This is a shocking situation, this is the worst news police and their families can receive.

"The incident points to the real risk our officers face as they go about their jobs every day. Staff safety and welfare are our absolute priority and our whole organisation is in a state of shock as a result of this event."

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Photo: RNZ / Vinay Ranchhod

Thirty-two police have been killed in the line of duty up until today.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the death of the police officer is devastating news.

"To lose a police officer is to lose someone working for all of us, but also a family member, someone's loved one and friend. My condolences go to them and to their police whānau."

Meanwhile in a joint media conference with the Police Association in Napier this afternoon, Police Minister Stuart Nash said the news of the fatal shooting is absolutely gutting.

He said he's heartbroken for the family and colleagues of the officer who died and described it as a tragic day for the police family.

"Over 10,000 men and woman have lost a valued colleague," he said.

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Stuart Nash, left, and Chris Cahill address media in Napier. Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

The officer who died in the shooting was a man who had dedicated his career "to keeping us safe", Nash said.

He said his thoughts are also with the injured officer and the member of the public who was injured.

Nash said he has spoken to Coster, to ensure that he and his senior commanders have all the resources they need to respond.

"The officers' families and colleagues also need all the support they can get. This will take a toll on them in the days and weeks ahead.

"I want to thank those who were first on the scene to help and acknowledge the health professionals who worked to treat the officers."

Police association president Chris Cahill said he would be travelling to Auckland to support his colleagues.

He said he wants to convey a message to the officers' families that police will support them through such an incredibly difficult time.

Now was not the appropriate time to have the debate about the routine arming of officers.

Coster said during his briefing that the police officers were not carrying arms when they made their routine traffic stop.

Police at the scene of a shooting in Massey, Auckland.

An officer at the scene of the shooting in Massey. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

32 NZ officers die in line of duty

A portrait of Senior Constable Len Snee.

Len Snee Photo: STUFF

Until today, it has been more than 10 years since a police officer was killed in New Zealand in the line of duty.

Since 1890, 22 officers have been shot dead in the line of duty, with a further 10 have been killed in other types of attacks.

The most recent killing was in May 2009, when Senior Constable Len Snee was fatally wounded while carrying out a routine search warrant at the home of Jan Molenaar in Napier.

Two other police and a member of the public were also shot and wounded. Molenaar later turned the gun on himself.

The year prior, Sergeant Don Wilkinson was fatally shot in September while carrying out undercover duties in Mangere.

He was trying to install a tracking device on a vehicle outside a suspected P lab. Two men were charged over the attack.

The list of police killed stretches back to 30 July, 1890 when Constable Neil McLeod was killed when a passenger was taken off a steam ship at Dargaville and his rifle taken from him. In a rage, he pulled out a pistol and fired at the departing steamer, hitting Constable McLeod.

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Photo: RNZ / Vinay Ranchhod