A police officer is believed to have been shot dead and another person injured near a gang headquarters in Napier, bringing parts of the city to a standstill.
The mayhem broke out about 9.30am local time, when police were called to an address on Chaucer Road, Napier Hill.
Gunshots were heard and a witness, who lives on the northern side of Napier Hill in the North Island city, reported it “sounded like World War III”.
Another witness said shots continued after the initial outburst near a gang headquarters in Ahuriri. As police swarmed over Napier Hill searching for the man believed to have shot and killed the police officer, a woman was arrested. She is believed to be the girlfriend of the alleged killer. Another two people are understood to have been injured and flown to hospital by rescue helicopter.
Police confirmed to NZPA there had been a firearms incident but would not say whether an officer had been shot.
A large part of Napier Hill and the surrounding areas have been cordoned off, bringing parts of the city to a standstill. All schools in the area are in lockdown mode, and acting under instruction from police.
Residents have been urged to stay inside. With the Hawke\’s Bay armed offenders squad (AOS) stretched, back-up has been called for, with Gisborne AOS members being flown in to join the manhunt.
NZPA understands police are searching for only one man. Chaucer Rd resident Donald Taylor told the Stuff website he was told by armed police to stay inside his house about 9.45am local time.
He could see two armed police standing over a man lying on the ground and they later led the limping man to a police car.
“While they were putting him in the car … I heard two more shots. They are now all sprinting around (the) Botanical Gardens.”
Royal Tavern duty manager Dianne Durham said she was outside and heard “three quick shots”.
They appeared to come from the Botanical Gardens about 500 metres away.
Police told her to stay inside and not open the pub. Warren, the manager of the nearby Hinepare Accommodation Centre, said he heard six or seven shots and police told residents to stay off the roof and keep away from windows as a man had a high-powered rifle.
“There are officers everywhere, all their arms are drawn, and patrol cars everywhere.
I didn\’t realise we had so many police in Napier.” Warren dismissed reports the shooting was at a gang house. “There are no gang houses around here.”
Another resident told the New Zealand Herald website that she heard a series of gunshots followed by 10 minutes of silence and then another series of shots. Caroline Wahtink said the shots “were quite close”.
“I can\’t see the road from here but police are all over the place,” Ms Wahtink said. Resident Wayne Rollinson told the Herald he and his son heard five shots go off in rapid succession.
“We were just inside our house having breakfast and we just heard five shots. Very rapid, and then nothing.
“We just looked at each other. We could tell that it was gun shots. It sounded like an automatic.”