'Bizarre' situation fetches AOS

By Corey Charlton

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An expletive-filled outburst and a hammer banging on bent lawnmower blades prompted an Armed Offenders Squad call-out when it was mistaken for gunshots fired in anger.

Part of Eriksen Rd in Awatoto was cordoned off by armed police officers yesterday while the AOS contained what they later realised was a quite bizarre situation following a call from a member of the public.

From about 11.30am to 1.30pm the road was closed to the public while the AOS arrived and moved into position, taking heed of the potential for firearms.

What actually occurred was only a particularly frustrated man knocking his lawnmower blades back into shape.

He wanted to be named only as Kurt, but told Hawke's Bay Today he "had a bit of a rage" when the lawnmower broke after he had only recently got it working.

By smashing it against concrete and a vice, he fixed it, and completed mowing the lawns.

Not long after he received a phone call from a friend telling him police had the street cordoned off.

"I was playing Xbox 360 - Modern Warfare - and I got a phone call from a mate," he said.

"I got to the gate with the phone in my ear and saw a couple of them bob their heads up over the fence, and say 'put your hands up'. I just dropped my phone and walked out with my hands up, co-operated like anyone would.

"I kind of knew what they were here for, because of the banging ... I knew it was pretty loud because I had my earmuffs on when I was getting the blades straight."

He said it was around 30-40 minutes before they arrived, but he understood they had been watching him mow the lawns.

At first they didn't believe him, until he showed them the marks where he'd banged the metal blades back into shape.

"It was a bit over the top, I reckon. It's a rural property, what do you expect, really?"

Detective Sergeant Emmet Lynch described what police found to have actually transpired at the property as "quite an unbelievable set of circumstances".

"He just lost his rag a bit, but he apologised for that," Mr Lynch said.

"No other offences were detected during our enquiries at the address."

There was no domestic dispute as initially suspected, and no firearms were found.

Despite the scale of the response, he said the public's assistance was important.

"It's just unfortunate, but they've done the right thing to report the incident.

"We can't treat these things lightly and we need these reports if they [the public] hear firearms."

Police were particularly mindful of rural situations where firearms were more commonplace, he said.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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