'Two brave guys' trap bank axe accused

By Amy McGillivray of the Bay of Plenty Times -
The BNZ in Whangamata was attacked by a man with an axe this morning. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times
The BNZ in Whangamata was attacked by a man with an axe this morning. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times

Two quick-thinking bystanders barricaded a rampaging, axe-wielding man inside a Whangamata bank until police arrived.

A man walked into the BNZ on Port Rd yesterday morning with an axe and smashed a number of windows and the front counter. Witness Dinelle Pye said two men, who were parked outside the bank, rummaged through their ute before tying the doors of the bank together with what looked like a shoelace or some string.

"The two guys tied the door so that no one else could get out,'' she said.

Ms Pye believed the "two brave guys'' also pushed a desk and a brochure stand in front of the door in an attempt to make it harder for the offender to escape.

"Those guys were bloody brave,'' she said.

Thames-Coromandel CIB Detective Sergeant Martyn Hughes said the four staff members managed to escape before the men tied the doors shut. Three staff got out relatively quickly but one staff member remained inside a bit longer.

"At this point in time we do not believe the man made any threats toward this staff member who was able to escape before the arrival of police,'' he said.

Officers armed with guns arrived, untied the doors and arrested the man.

Ms Pye witnessed the rampage from her workplace.

Initially she thought the ruckus was the recycling being collected but soon realised the gravity of the situation.

"It sounded like someone smashing glass bottles into the bin,'' she said.

BNZ external relations manager Emily Davies praised the actions of the men who locked the attacker inside the store and described them as heroes.

"The offender caused a significant amount of damage. No staff or customers were targeted or injured,'' she said. "Our main concern is the health and welfare of our staff.''

Ms Davies said no customers were in the store and staff were shaken but uninjured.

The store was likely to remain closed today.

A 53-year-old local man will appear in Hamilton District Court today charged with attempted aggravated robbery and intentional damage.

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