Police name officer shot dead, fresh shots fired

An officer killed during a drugs bust in Napier this morning has been named as Senior Constable Len Snee of Taradale.

Fresh shots were heard by a Herald reporter at the scene at around 3.30pm.

Police released his name at a press conference at Napier police station this afternoon.

Two other officers shot in the incident this morning, Constable Bruce Miller and Constable Grant Diver, were both in a serious condition in Hawke's Bay regional hospital this afternoon.

Another person, not a member of the police, is also in a serious condition in hospital and is being operated on.

Mr Snee's body remains outside the Napier house, where a 51-year-old man with a high-powered rifle remains holed up.

All three policemen were described as long-serving officers who were well-known in the city. Mr Snee was a member of the armed offenders squad and worked on drugs cases.

Eastern District commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle described the raid as a routine cannabis raid.

"It was a low key search warrant, probably hundreds of these occur in every city across the nation every week," Mr Hoyle said.

He said the three officers were not armed.

Shots were fired and Mr Diver was wounded but managed to crawl out of the house to a neighbouring property where he was rescued by Armed Offenders Squad members.

Mr Hoyle was questioned on how many shots were fired and what had happened inside the house.

He declined to answer those questions.

Officers have been bought in from Gisborne and other surrounding districts. "I want the people of Napier to be assured that we have the offender contained," Mr Hoyle said.

He said today's shooting was a "stark reminder" of the risks that police officers face everyday.

Mr Miller was the community constable for Ahuriri, the Napier suburb where the raid took place.

Prime Minister

Prime Minister John Key said he had been briefed on the unfolding drama, but details at the moment were "scant".

"The first thing I'd say is that any attack on a New Zealand police officer is abhorrent.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those police officers.

Earlier, A colleague of the offender told police the man had lots of ammunition, and possibly explosives, NZPA reported.

Police said the gunman was contained in a house on the hill, which had been surrounded by the Armed Offenders Squad. No-one else is believed to be inside.

Some children have begun to be released from school in the area but those in Chaucer Rd will stay until the incident is over.

A witness told NZPA a number of shots were fired from the house at AOS members shortly after midday. Callers to Newstalk ZB said there was repeated shooting throughout the morning and early afternoon.

Media had reported one officer had been killed but police had not confirmed the death in their official statements until the press conference this afternoon. They earlier said only that two officers have been injured and the third is "unaccounted for at this stage".

A member of the public had also been shot and was seriously injured, they said. It is understood the person was shot three times in the back.

Three other injured people have been taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital .

The District Health Board reported one police officer to be in a serious condition, with another officer and a civilian in a stable condition.

'Drug bust'

Hawke's Bay Today reported that the officer was killed during a drug bust.

The newspaper said it understood a person who knew the offender, thought to be 50-years-old, had offered to act as a mediator to get him to hand himself in.

Radio New Zealand said it had been told a high powered weapon was involved in the incident.

NZPA reported that a woman – believed to be the girlfriend of the alleged killer – had been arrested.

Police said they were talking to other individuals who had been in the Chaucer Road property this morning.


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AOS cordons off area

The Armed Offenders Squad has cordoned off a large part of Napier Hill and surrounding areas, bringing parts of the city to a standstill.

Chaucer Rd South is a main road to the old Hospital site from the township of Napier.

Armed officers and ambulances arrived at the scene this morning and it was understood a police helicopter was searching for one or more people.

Air Force squadron leader Kave Tamariki said two helicopters were on stand-by at Ohakea Air Force Base and would be flown in to Napier if needed by police.

Police have urged local residents to remain indoors and told schools to keep their students inside until advised by police.

Napier Girls High School is one of those in lock-down. A member of the administration staff said all students and staff were accounted for and singing in the hall.

The officer's death would take the number of police killed in the line of duty in New Zealand to 29.

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Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott told Radio New Zealand the district police commander had left a council meeting when he was informed.

"It's an appalling shocking incident to have here right in the heart of our city," she told Hawke's Bay Today.

"My thoughts and those of all Napier people will be with the local families affected by this tragedy."

Already social media sites have begun to carry messages of support for the police.

"OMG. This is horrible. Napier is such a small town. So sorry for family and friends," wrote one poster on a Trade Me message board.

Another wrote: "I have a cousin up there. God this is horrible. My thoughts go out to everyone of emergency teams involved. Police, Ambo's, AOS and all their families."

- NZ HERALD STAFF with NZPA

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