Armed police callout in city

By Amy Wiggins, Kiri Gillespie

Armed police cordoned off part of a major Tauranga road and the armed offenders squad were on standby after reports of a man with a gun.

About five armed police briefly cordoned off a section of Devonport Rd between 15th Ave and 16th Ave about 1pm yesterday.

Tauranga Senior Sergeant Eddie Lyttle said the issue was quickly resolved when police spoke to the man and found he had a toy gun.

A woman returning home after a walk was blocked off by the police cordon.

The woman, who would not be identified, said she heard a man with a gun had been running around.

"I'm just coming home now so I don't know what's going on," she said.

"I just live over there, my husband's at home. He's probably watching the telly and probably doesn't know it's happening."

The woman was let through the cordon after about 10 minutes.

Western Bay of Plenty tactical response manager Inspector Karl Wright-St Clair said no arrests were made because it appeared the man suffered mental health issues.

Toy guns, BB guns and paintball guns sparked police call-outs regularly, he said.

"We treat every incident with a firearm or potential firearm seriously so obviously it's not a good idea to be wandering around in public presenting or showing toy weapons because it's very hard for police to tell whether it's real.

"It's a waste of resources. We do treat it seriously and we gather together a lot of resources to deal with something like that.

"People need to use a bit more common sense."

People were putting themselves at risk when they took toy guns out in public, Mr Wright-St Clair said.

"We wouldn't attend an armed incident without being armed ourselves so people have to be prepared for an armed confrontation."

Mr Wright-St Clair said a person could be charged for presenting an imitation firearm in a way that made people think it was real.

It was punishable by a fine and sometimes a short prison sentence, he said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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