Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

Family of man shot dead by police want answers

Adam Morehu
Adam Morehu

The "devastated'' family of the suspected burglar shot dead by police yesterday in New Plymouth say they don't understand why he was killed, and they are demanding answers from police.

Today, the grieving Morehu whanau say the loss of a "son, father, partner, nephew, mokopuna and friend; Adam Te Rata Charles Morehu as a result of a police shooting'' is devastating and hard to bear so closely after the recent sudden loss of his mother Tania Bailey, who died on May 5 from a brain aneurism.

"We are trying very hard to stay strong as a whanau to support Adam's partner Kaly Gilbert and children Adam Junior and Amarlia, his brother Joshua and father Ed Morehu,'' a statement said.

"We do not understand yet the circumstances by which Adam has lost his life, how and why this happened.

"To that end we will be meeting with the police in the next couple of days to receive more information related to their ongoing investigation.''

Morehu, a 33-year-old labourer from New Plymouth and an un-named 32-year-old co-accused, who has now been charged by police, allegedly tripped silent alarms at the Ngamotu Golf Club, off State Highway 3, New Plymouth, just after 4am yesterday.

Two male police officers arrived at the golf club to find shattered glass windows, and say they saw two offenders trying to flee the scene on a motorbike.

Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls said the two accused crashed the motorbike down a bank while trying to escape, and a police dog was released.

Mr Nicholls said Morehu became aggressive towards police and told officers he was going to kill them before firing a sawn-off rifle at the officers.

"While the offender was going through his back pack an officer has removed a Glock from the police vehicle,'' said Mr Nicholls.

"He heard the offender reloading his firearm and he was shot by police.''

Three separate investigations have been launched into the shooting.

Morehu was a childhood friend of Steven Wallace, who was shot dead by Senior Constable Keith Abbott in Waitara in 2000.

The family says it regrets the media has drawn comparisons with the Wallace shooting and the impact it had on the Waitara community at the time, but family members have thanked the Wallace whanau for their messages of support.

"Our focus now is on bringing Adam home and spending the next few days together,'' said the Morehu family statement.

"We ask the media and wider public to respect our privacy as the speculation is hurting not just Adam's whanau, but the community we live in.''

A blessing and karakia was performed by a local kaumatua as Morehu's body was removed from the scene yesterday evening.

His body has been taken to Wellington for a post mortem examination, which is likely to be completed tonight.

The alleged co-offender, also from New Plymouth, has been charged with two counts of aggravated burglary, as well as being a party to using a firearm against a police officer and using a firearm in the commission of an offence.

He will appear at New Plymouth District Court tomorrow.

The scene examination is expected to take another day or two, police say.

"Along with providing support to our staff we are also working with Mr Morehu's family and keeping them updated on the investigation,'' Central District Commander Superintendent Russell Gibson said.

Police encourage anyone with any information regarding the incident to contact New Plymouth police on (06) 759 5500 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- APNZ

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