Alanah Eriksen

Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's property reporter, and assistant chief reporter.

Brave dog team: 'We're going to get shot at'

Senior Const Steve Pike with York and Senior Const Chris Harris, who were all given a bravery award for their work chasing a gunman who had just shot a fellow officer four times. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Senior Const Steve Pike with York and Senior Const Chris Harris, who were all given a bravery award for their work chasing a gunman who had just shot a fellow officer four times. Photo / Brett Phibbs

When Acting Sergeant Steve Pike was crouching behind a fence shielding himself from a gunman who'd just shot another officer four times and left him for dead, he was expecting "bullets to go flying".

He and fellow police dog handler Chris Harris were presented police bravery awards on Friday for their work in pursuing the man.

The two officers had been at another job in Papatoetoe, where a man had breached his bail, when they heard Constable Jeremy Snow on the radio about 4am yelling out for help.

He had stopped at a house on Buckingham Cres to check a possible stolen car. He spotted a gun in the vehicle and followed a man into the backyard when the man opened fire seven times.

Acting Sergeant Pike, Senior Constable Harris and a police sergeant met at a "safe forward point" on the nearby Allenby Rd and while gearing up to try and save Constable Snow, noticed a man crossing the road in the distance who they suspected was the offender.

Continuing their plan to save their colleague, Senior Constable Harris slowly drove his police stationwagon toward the house to act as a shield as the other two officers walked behind it.

But when they arrived, about six officers were already on the scene helping Constable Snow so they set off with Acting Sergeant Pike's police dog York in search of the man they'd seen earlier.

York tracked him to a nearby driveway where he was hiding behind a hedge so they crouched behind a brick fence and called for him to come out.

"After a while, we were expecting bullets to come flying.

"That was certainly one of the ones where I thought 'We're going to get shot at'"

Senior Constable Harris added: "All sorts of things run through your mind. We've been in the job for a long time and I don't suppose anything prepares you for it. It's driving home afterwards when the old legs start shaking and you think about what may or may not have been if things had gone the other way."

When the man refused to come out, they set York on him.

The officers searched the man and found a pistol magazine. A detective stayed with the offender while the two officers tracked the man's path from the house and found the weapon used to shoot Constable Snow and some clothing.

Neshanderan Rajgopaul was found guilty in 2011 of the attempted murder of Constable Snow, and of eight other drugs and firearms-related offences, and sentenced to 18 years jail.

Constable Snow almost bled to death during the December 2009 incident but has recovered and is now back on frontline duties.

He bought York some dog treats to say thank you and thanked the officers who helped him.

"Having him tell you that he appreciated what had been done for him, that was really touching," Senior Constable Harris said.

"I'll remember that til the day I leave."

York, now 12 years old is retired and lives with Acting Sergeant Pike and his family and spends his days "lying in the sun chewing things".

Police Commissioner Mike Bush presented the two officers with a gold merit award for bravery at the Auckland city police' biannual medal ceremony at the Auckland Town Hall on Friday.

- NZ Herald

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