Police too 'busy' to attend 111 call about gunshots

By Simon Hartley

Police say they were unusually busy - so no one was available to attend a 111 call of gunshots in a township outside of Dunedin. Photo / APN
Police say they were unusually busy - so no one was available to attend a 111 call of gunshots in a township outside of Dunedin. Photo / APN

A week after two Dunedin children were shot dead, a Waipori resident is concerned Dunedin police did not respond to a 111 call following dozens of .22-calibre rifle shots in a residential area, early yesterday morning.

Dunedin police have defended the ''balancing act'' and subsequent decision not to respond saying no spare Dunedin staff were available, on what was a busy morning, and unusually, no Mosgiel police were on roster.

Waipori resident of three years Richard Mathias said he was woken about 2.45am yesterday to .22 calibre shots in Waipori Falls Rd, and later one shotgun blast.

The .22 shot out two street lamps and a fence was peppered by the shotgun blast.

Mr Mathias later collected 45 .22 calibre casings and photographed the fence and other damage.

He called 111 about 2.45am and 41 minutes later was contacted by Dunedin police and told his was the only 111 call, and that police did not have a car to dispatch.

''Really, if this was Outram [a larger township] it would have have been an AOS [armed offenders squad] callout, especially after events in Dunedin recently,'' he said of last week's killing of Ellen (6) and Bradley (9) Livingstone by their father Edward Livingstone, in St Leonards, with a firearm.

While he understood the likelihood of Dunedin police being busy at 2.45am on a Sunday morning in the city, Mr Mathias believed a firearms incident merited a response, and contacted the ODT with his concerns yesterday.

Senior Sergeant Kelvin Lloyd, of Dunedin, when contacted, verified the call times, the 111 being made at 2.47am, and said the duty sergeant had to decide on the ''balancing act'', of whether there were gains to be achieved from attending the incident, and collecting evidence.

''He [Mr Mathias] did a great job, advising on what he had seen ... reported four to five shots, but didn't have a description of a vehicle or offender,'' Snr Sgt Lloyd said.

It was ''rare'' Mosgiel did not have an officer and vehicle on roster, which ''would have been sent immediately'', while city police ''only have a finite amount of staff and it was a busy night in town''.

''It's the judgement call of the supervisor at the time, especially at that distance and [staff] availability ... or the ability to apprehend an offender,'' Snr Sgt Lloyd said.

Mr Mathias said the shots went on for about 10 minutes and several ricocheted around his house, before ''several people'', including one female, drove off, in what may have been a Toyota Hilux. He then went outside, but was unable to get a car registration.

''It was so surreal there was no response. It was a very serious incident,'' Mr Mathias said.

He said had people been out walking, or there been families camping, the bullets could have gone astray in the darkness, including into unseen, darkened homes along the road.

''How do I get a response, when I say they are now shooting [directly] at my home?'' Mr Mathias asked. He said a neighbour, without a telephone, thought his vehicle and house were being shot at.

- Otago Daily Times

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 24 Nov 2014 09:10:28 Processing Time: 442ms