Oxford St described as "too violent"

By Michele McPherson

A man took a gun to a party Sunday morning - sparking a police armed offenders squad callout and leaving those who live in the area frightened.
The man had been at the party, on Oxford St in Merivale, earlier in the evening but left after an argument over a missing wallet.
Tauranga police Senior Sergeant Glenn Saunders said the man returned with an air rifle "that he presented at party goers".
Mr Saunders said there were no reports of shots fired at the party but armed police responded and arrested a man at 4am.
An Oxford St resident, who spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times on condition they were not named for safety reasons, said he believed he was woken by the sound of gunshots about 2.30am.
"I didn't know what was going on but I definitely heard gun shots. I was in bed at the time.
"I thought 'what the hell's going on?'," he said.
Oxford St was a "scary, scary street to live in".
"I want to get out. It's too violent."
Two years ago, Oxford St was dubbed by the Merivale community as the most dangerous street in the area.
The comments came from a report released by the Merivale Community Centre. The report showed 41 per cent of residents surveyed said they felt too scared to go outside at night in their suburb.
The street was home to a local gang pad but residents yesterday said things had since changed for the better.
Gangs had moved out and several police arrests had also helped clean up the street.
Another resident Alan Eynon said things were "pretty rough" when he moved in six years ago.
"Just about every week there was something going on... someone would have to call the cops. They [young people] started making nuisances of themselves but lately it has been good."
Mr Eynon said he and several neighbours "kept an eye out for each other" in the form of an unofficial neighbourhood watch.


He said he did not hear any gun shots on Sunday morning but was not surprised to hear of the incident.
Another resident said Oxford St had "its moments".
"Normally cops drive past with their lights on and you get young ones running down the street boozed up and dropping their bottles all over the place. Since they put that liquor ban in it has been pretty okay."
Services manager at Merivale Community Centre Graham Cameron said the incident was a blow for the community.
"It's incredibly disappointing people get themselves into these situations and make poor decisions and unfortunately it's not the first time this type of thing has happened," he said.
"Any time this happens, it really raises the awareness about safety in the community... and I can totally understand and sympathise with people who are now feeling vulnerable or scared."
Mr Cameron said he would today visit residents on Oxford St and ask them how they wished to address the situation.
"If it was someone inside the community then this might be part of a bigger issue but if it was someone who came into the area and used this as an opportunity to play up then there's not much anyone can do about it."
Mr Cameron said the incident was "pretty outrageous" and a "huge shame".
A 23-year-old unemployed man was arrested and charged with presenting a firearm and possession of a firearm without lawful purpose. Further assault charges were likely.
The man was released on bail but expected to appear in the Tauranga District Court on Friday.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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