Twenty years ago today, 25-year-old Constable Glenn McKibbin bled to death as he lay on the road beside his car, a single bullet from a Ruger .223 rifle lodged in his spine.

Forty three-year-old Terrence Thompson, the man who fired the bullet, drove a small distance up the road in his old Falcon station-wagon, wheeled around and cruised slowly and quietly back to where Mr McKibbin lay, to have another shot at him.

Terrence Kohema Thompson sparked a nine-week manhunt.
Terrence Kohema Thompson sparked a nine-week manhunt.

He fired two more bullets, which hit the side of the patrol car, then disappeared off into the countryside.

It was an unbelievable act of random violence by a man who had decided the world was against him and it was time to take revenge.

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The fact that Thompson had gone to Flaxmere to evict the owners from a house he had once owned, and was prepared to shoot them if they resisted, was bizarre. The fact he selected young Glenn McKibbin as his victim instead, was pure chance.

Mr McKibbin was on patrol duty at about 10.30am when he stopped a motorist in Margate Ave and got out of his car. He was speaking to the driver when Thompson drove up and fired a hunting rifle at him.

The bullet went through Mr McKibbin's hard-covered notebook, then his stomach, then hit his spine.

A massive, nine-week manhunt followed as Thompson went bush, constantly eluding his would-be captors.

A graduate from Victoria University, with a bachelor of commerce and administration degree, Thompson was also a former Territorial soldier trained in survival techniques. He was a loner known to have spent long periods on his own in the bush and had stocked up on dried foods at a supermarket the previous week.

Even his relatives joined police in the search, which ended 65 days later, just after 5pm on June 24, when he was discovered in a gully near Havelock North, roasting a sheep he had just killed over a fire.

The Armed Offenders Squad swooped. An officer ran toward Thompson yelling "Police, get down, get down, get down!"

Thompson, carrying a loaded, military-style rifle, looked directly at the officer and replied "Shoot me, shoot me, shoot me, ****ing shoot me."

He was holding the M1 carbine with one hand in a polythene bag and the other hand on the barrel.

As he lifted the barrel and pivoted, the officer confronting him fired a single shot from his Glock pistol.

It went through Thompson's chest and heart and killed him instantly.

The next day, the name of Terrence Kohema Thompson, born David Charles Rangiharuru Ropiha, was called in the Hastings District Court and a warrant for his arrest was withdrawn.

Subsequent complaints by Thompson's family suggested police had shot him in revenge and said they should have been called to the scene of confrontation to negotiate his surrender. But police remained convinced by a variety of evidence, including Thompson's behaviour, medical and criminal histories and writings found in his home, that he deliberately provoked a confrontation and intended to make a statement to the world by dying at their hands.

Two subsequent inquiries by the Police Complaints Authority and Hastings Coroner Peter Dennehy found police were entirely justified in their actions.

How the events unfolded:

April 21, 1996
Constable Glenn McKibbin, 25, son of a retired police officer, and father of a young son, is on late Sunday-morning patrol in Flaxmere and stops a Toyota Corolla car in Yarmouth Rd, a few metres off the western leg of Margate Ave. At 10.58am he calls for help via the radio: "10/10. I've been shot." A mustard-coloured Ford Falcon station wagon had stopped alongside, its driver firing a .22 Ruger rifle across the passenger's seat directly at the constable. The Corolla driver, an innocent party, runs for cover, and the gunman drives off but quickly does a U-turn, stops again and fires twice more, hitting the police car just above where Constable McKibbin lay dying on the road. The station wagon drives off at speed and is found later in the day abandoned at a property 18km away, at the end of Anaroa Rd, off Raukawa Rd south of Bridge Pa and west of Te Hauke and Poukawa.

April-June, 1996
Police name the suspect as Terrence Thompson, 43, but are unable to locate him despite a huge manhunt in Hawke's Bay, stretching to the Southern Hawke's Bay beach settlement of Porangahau.

June 24, 1996
Thompson is reported to have stayed overnight at a property on the ouskirts of Havelock North overnight. Just after 4.45pm, as police AOS members are being briefed at Havelock North Police Station, an orchard owner reports seeing Thompson at a campfire in the orchard cooking meat. Challenged by armed officers soon afterwards in the orchard, between Te Mata and Brookvale roads, Thompson ignores orders to surrender and points a firearm toward an officer. The officer fires one shot and kills the fugitive. Thompson, whose birth name was David Charles Rangiharuru Ropiha, was buried in an urupa at Porangahau.

Aftermath of a tragedy
Thompson's son, Haruru Pekepo, was shot dead in Auckland at the age of 19 in July 2006, and returned to Tapairu, Central Hawke's Bay, to be buried. A young man later pleaded guilty to murder and two others admitted being parties or accessories. A month after the death, a person at a makeshift shrine for Haruru Pekepo in Otahuhu was struck by a car, leading to another man being sent to jail for manslaughter.