Hero 'took bullet' to protect policemen

By Alanah Eriksen, Alanah May Eriksen

The civilian wounded in the Napier siege was a hero who saved two injured officers and "took one in the backside for his troubles", says Police Commissioner Howard Broad.

The civilian, who tried to wrestle the gun off Jan Molenaar, was "someone who is clearly a very brave man", Mr Broad told the Weekend Herald last night.

The man knew Molenaar, lived nearby and appeared to be visiting him.

Mr Broad said Senior Constables Bruce Miller and Grant Diver were wounded and trying to crawl away when the man intervened.

"[Molenaar] was still a threat to the officers and he distracted them. The thing is this guy took a bullet in the backside for his troubles and he's in critical [condition] along with them."

Mr Broad said Mr Miller and Mr Diver crawled separately to safety up Chaucer Rd, known as "Breakneck" because of its steepness.

It has been reported that Mr Miller was able to radio for help and was rescued with the civilian.

Mr Diver crawled up behind a house and used his cellphone to call armed offenders squad officers to his position, from where they rescued him under fire from Molenaar.

Mr Broad said the actions by all the officers involved deserved to be complimented.

Superintendent Sam Hoyle said the civilian lived nearby and knew Molenaar well enough to turn up at his house and use the gunman's name.

"He did his very best to intervene. He was attempting to wrestle the firearm off the offender."

Police described how Mr Diver, a dog handler who is believed to have been shot in the stomach and leg, made it to a neighbouring house, shielded himself from the gunfire and called for back-up.

"He pulled up the street away from the offender's home and got behind a neighbour's house. [I'm] not exactly sure how many metres that was away," said Mr Hoyle, the eastern district commander.

"[Armed offenders squad] members under fire rescued him from beside that neighbour's house.

"He was in contact with us on his cellphone and talking us in to where he was."

Mr Miller, reportedly with a gunshot wound to his back, crawled for a while before radioing for help.

It reportedly took police up to an hour to find Mr Diver, who is married and in his 27th year in the police.

Mr Diver was in a serious but stable condition in hospital last night and 40-year-old Mr Miller, an Ahuriri community constable in his 18th year of service, was battling for his life in an induced coma after surgery to remove his spleen.

Mr Hoyle said local police were distraught over the death and injuries of their colleagues.

"We are making sure they get adequate rest and welfare support when they are stood down, particularly for our Hawkes Bay staff who knew it was their colleagues [who had] been shot when they first attended and were fired upon when they recovered Senior Constable Diver."

Mr Diver was able to tell tactical commanders only brief details about what happened in the moments after he arrived at the gunman's home.

"[The gunfire] seemingly came out of nowhere," Mr Hoyle said. "The search warrant was a low-key search warrant. There was no sign of violence or aggression until this offender fired up."

Mr Miller had not been well enough to speak to police yet.

The families of Mr Miller and Mr Driver, both reportedly keen golfers and rugby players, said their hearts went out to the family of the slain policeman, Senior Constable Len Snee.

"We want to especially recognise the efforts of the frontline police staff who are dealing with the current situation and in particular we wish to pass on our gratitude to the police officers who carried Bruce and Grant to safety."

The family of the injured civilian yesterday thanked friends, family and the community for their support.

- NZ Herald

Your views

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 20 Apr 2014 22:23:51 Processing Time: 525ms