Auckland shooting: Police focus on identifying two victims killed by gunman

7:16 am on 21 July 2023
Armed police remain at the scene of a serious shooting incident in downtown Auckland on 20 July, 2023.

Armed police at the site of the shooting incident on Thursday. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Police are still trying to identify the two victims shot dead when a gunman opened fire at an Auckland construction site.

Ten other people were injured and six of them, including two police officers, are in hospital after 24-year-old Matu Reid went on a shooting spree on Thursday morning at the Commercial Bay building site where he worked.

Police will not say if an officer shot him or if he killed himself and have not yet explained the motive for the attack.

One worker was in the high rise building at Number 1 Queen Street and hid with his colleagues when Matu Reid came up to where they were and then walked past.

He said Reid seemed to be looking for a particular person.

"All I knew is to run. He was so close to me. Had he shot, I would have lost my life. I didn't think much, but just ran. He didn't shoot at us. I felt lucky."

Local man Lochlan thinks the city is getting more dangerous.

''It's unnerving because it does feel like crime is getting worse in New Zealand, I don't know if it's just because it's being reported on more, but it feels like there are a lot more attacks happening, ram-raids, there is now this.

"It feels like crime is getting worse and worse," he said.

A union for some of the immigrant workers in the building said their members were terrified.

First Union general secretary Dennis Maga said they could not believe what had happened.

''They've been saying to us that they thought New Zealand was a safe country and they never thought that they would experience this kind of incident, especially because we are in the middle of a FIFA competition.

"They're hoping that this is an isolated, one-off incident."

The building at the centre of the serious incident in Auckland CBD on 20 July 2023 is currently a construction zone. It was believed more than 100 workers were inside at the time.

A union representing some of the immigrant workers in the building said the workers needed trauma counselling. Photo: RNZ / Felix Walton

He said the workers needed trauma counselling.

"We've been asking employers that they should be providing some mental health and trauma care to these workers.

"Especially if they are not familiar with how the system works. There should be information out there, including from the New Zealand police."

Matu Reid had been working on the construction site while he was on home detention as punishment for violently attacking his partner.

He was being monitored with an electronic bracelet, was doing an anti-violence programme and had reported to his probation officer the day before.

The Corrections Department said he was being closely managed but was now investigating if there was anything that could be done to stop such a tragedy happening again.

Police are also looking into how Reid illegally got his pump action shot gun.

Questions are also being raised about why Reid was allowed home detention in the first place.

Lawyer Adam Simperingham from the Criminal Bar Association said it was clear something had gone very wrong.

"It certainly seems like there has been some sort of oversight in the process of assessing this man for home detention" he said.

Home detention was still a useful - and very common - sentence, Simperingham said.

He said if anything, the attack was more evidence of the country's rising gun crime.

''What I think this is symptomatic of is an increased use of firearms and offending in New Zealand. It sounds like it is particularly bad in Auckland, or has been in the last couple of years."

Police at the scene of a cordon on Lower Albert Street in Auckland'S CBD following a fatal shooting incident on 20 July, 2023.

Police at a cordon on Lower Albert Street in n Auckland'S CBD on Thursday following the shooting Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Police said they had spoken to more than 70 witnesses.

The building site remains under guard as a crime scene and it is not clear when it will re-open.

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