Ashburton Work and Income shooting: Latest Updates

By Patrice Dougan, Kurt Bayer, Sophie Ryan

Police at the scene of the double shooting in Ashburton. Photo / Martin Hunter
Police at the scene of the double shooting in Ashburton. Photo / Martin Hunter

Follow here for live updates after two people were shot dead in the Work and Income office in Ashburton.

- Two people shot dead, another in serious condition

- Ashburton was placed in lockdown as police hunted the gunman

- Police named John Henry Tully as the person of interest.

- He was apprehended around 5.35pm on a farm near Ashburton.

Live updates


John Tully arrived at the Ashburton police station tonight accompanied by members of the Armed Offenders Squad and police, along with two blacked out police vans and St John staff.


"Go the police"

Bystanders have hurled abuse at the captured man as he arrived at Ashburton police station and applauded the police.
"Go the police," said one man.
"We don't need this on Ashburton."
A woman said: "those poor people.

"I don't get it...".
Locals applauded police and AOS members as they arrived at the police station.
"They've risked their lives today," a woman said.

"Police risked their lives today. I can sleep now."
Ashburton resident


The capture will be a "huge relief" for local community, said Superintendent Gary Knowles.
"It gives them some closure and safety tonight to think they can go home and not worry.
"We had the whole area contained but as I said, it's the small town New Zealand.. dealing with things ... it's been horrific today."

"Nothing will give the families who lost loved ones closure but I think a community can go to sleep tonight with the thought that the person we believe may be responsible is in custody."
Superintendent Gary Knowles


Police say that farmers were home when Tully was apprehended.
There had been two sightings in the day and as a result, the police chopper was put in the air, along with AOS, STG, and dog patrols.


John Tully was found by police dogs.
There was "minor resistance" and he received minor dog bite wounds, Canterbury District Commander Superintendent Gary Knowles said.
No officers were injured.
Tully was tracked for some distance by dogs. No shots were fired and there was no standoff.
"We're still searching for his weapon," Knowles said.
He was arrested and taken into custody at Ashburton police station.
No charges have yet been laid.
He would be medically examined before being formally interviewed and charged, Mr Knowles said.

We're still searching for his weapon
Superintendent Gary Knowles


Police confirm they apprehended John Tully, who they had been seeking since the shooting of two workers at Work and Income, near Lake Hood.
The area was where police had been concentrating for most of the day.


The Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae has tweeted his condolences to the victims and people of Ashburton


Here is what we have learned from the Police press conference at 5pm with Canterbury Superintendent Gary Knowles
- Police confirm that John Tully had been issued a trespass notice to stay away from the Ashburton Work and Income office after exhibiting "intimidating behaviour".
- Around 100 officers will be patrolling Ashburton and the surrounding areas in the manhunt for Tully.
- The New Zealand Defence Force has provided heat -detecting equipment and a helicopter for the search.
- Police believe Tully has no family or friends in the area now.
- They have asked all people on rural properties south of Ashburton to check their farms and report anything suspicious.



A police press conference will get underway soon on latest updates.


Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew said she had not personally met Mr Tully, but he had visited her Ashburton office and had phoned the office twice.
"The same staff member assisted him on each occasion. Mr Tully was also in touch and working with a number of social services locally," she said.
She said she understood he was seeking advice about housing in the area. It was not known what her office's response was.
Ms Goodhew said: "Right now my focus is on the Ashburton community. An extreme tragedy has occurred here today, and it will be felt for a very long time to come."

An extreme tragedy has occurred here today, and it will be felt for a very long time to come.
Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew


Police have set up a road block south of Ashburton and are stopping cars.


The Defence Force has confirmed it is assisting in the hunt.
"The NZDF is providing helicopter transport support to NZ Police involved in the Ashburton shooting incident," a spokesman said.


Ashburton Online is reporting that areas around Lake Hood are being closed down including the Lake House bar and restaurant.


Deputy State Services Commissioner Sandi Beatie has expressed shock over the shooting at Work and Income offices in Ashburton.

"We have also connected the Ministry of Social Development with other government departments who have dealt with similar tragedies in order to bring together the best staff and client care possible in this situation."

"On behalf of all New Zealand's public servants I would like to express our deep-felt condolences to the families, friends and especially our colleagues in Ashburton today."
Deputy State Services Commissioner


The Ministry of Social Development says it has security protocols at all offices but it will now need to look at what else is needed.
All offices have been closed in Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru, Christchurch and Balclutha. The Dunedin offices are open for emergency appointments.


The Ministry of Social Development has issued a statement, confirming that the two people shot dead at the Ashburton Work and Income office were staff members.
Chief executive Brendan Boyle say Work and Income staffare devastated by the death of two colleagues. He says their thoughts and prayers are with a third staff member who is in a critical condition in hospital.


Students are finishing their school day at the regular time and school buses are operating as normal, says the Ministry of Education. For students who lived in the area of interest but went to school outside the area, their schools had made arrangements for the students to stay at school for the moment. Parents and caregivers seeking further information should contact their school and view their school's website, Twitter or Facebook page.


Watching police activity from behind the police cordon local woman Rebecca Hodgkinson, 35, has told APNZ reporters that she was too scared to stay at her home on the other side of the riverbank where police were searching for the gunman."There's lots of hiding spots in the river. I live alone on a farm. I've got a lot of neighbours around but even with the doors locked, the fact he's got a sawn off shotgun and he'll be pretty desperate."


Ashburton residents are increasingly cancelling any meetings or engagements tonight as the manhunt continues for the man who killed two Work and Income workers.
You can find details of some cancellations here.


NZ First has responded to the situation in Ashburton after it was revealed that John Tully, the man being sought by police, had contacted the party about being homeless.
NZ First has issued a statement saying:

New Zealand First was contacted by Mr John Tully on August 14 by email.
We replied immediately and also followed up. However, the emails kept bouncing back.
We were also contacted by an Ashburton reporter who was in contact with Mr Tully. We informed the reporter that our responses were bouncing back.
Mr Tully wrote about the difficulty of getting a house to live in.
He said the local member of Parliament had not helped him.
An email shows he also wrote to the offices of the Speaker, Ministers Gerry Brownlee and Paula Bennett, among others.

Mr Tully wrote about the difficulty of getting a house to live in.
NZ First press release


Today's shooting is the latest but deadliest attack on Work and Income staff doing their job. Our Social Issues reporter Simon Collins on the roll-call of attacks.

Police say the house is "all clear". No-one was inside.
The hunt continues.


Armed police have converged on a house in Willow St.
Locals say it is a Housing NZ house that has lain empty for about a month.
At rear of house police let off a smoke grenade.
They have smashed the door of house and it was followed by bangs, says APNZ's reporter on the spot Kurt Bayer.


Police have surrounded a house in Willow Street near Ashburton River and urging person inside to come out.


Worried locals in Ashburton increasingly concerned about whether they will be able to reach their children at schools, which are currently on lockdown while the manhunt continues.


Police helicopter currently focusing on areas of Ashburton from the river to the skate park.
There are also police cars along the river as far east as River Road.


Police say they will hold another press conference to update on the investigation and manhunt at 5pm.


Ashburton Mayor Angus McKay was shown a photo of John Tully and instantly recognised him. He met him earlier this year and helped him get housing through Presbyterian Support who "looked after him very well".
Mr Tully had got housing assistance for four nights, when he should've had housing for two, the mayor said.
"Everything has been done to help this individual," Mr McKay said.


The Ashburton Guardian interviewed John Tully last month for a series on homelessness.
They have made the articles available to readers.
You can read the full interviews here.


The Ashburton Guardian's interview with John Tully reveals:
- He is homeless and frustrated at the lack of accommodation in Ashburton. He had camped out in the Ashburton domain but been moved on.
- He believed he had "come home to die" from an unidentified skin disease which caused boil-type lumps if untreated and tightened the joints causing limited movement.
- He had returned to Ashburton from working in the Australian mines.


The Ashburton Guardian interviewed John Henry Tully as part of a series on homelessness last month. is about to republish the article.
When spoken to by the Guardian Mr Tully was living by a local riverbank.


MP Jo Goodhew has headed to the town.

"My heart goes out to everyone that's been involved and I am just horrified to hear about it."
Local MP Jo Goodhew


Labour's Grant Robertson has issued a statement saying "his heart goes out to families and work colleagues of WINZ staff at Ashburton.

Unimaginable that just being at work can end in such tragedy.
Grant Robertson


Ashburton Mayor Angus McKay said was a very community-minded town and the tragedy would affect many lives. He became emotional when talking about it: "It just hits home real hard."


Canterbury District Superintendent Gary Knowles has told reporters: "I do think people are safe in Ashburton, but I think it's prudent that if you live by the river, or you have someone that's jumped your fence, or you see anything suspicious, ring us on 111."


A witness, who didn't want to be named, has told APNZ he was leaving the bank on Cass Street, when he heard a woman screaming and man yelling outside the Work and Income office.
"It was the most aggressive shouting from this guy standing across the street," he said.
"I was about 30 metres away from the guy. He was unchaining his bike from a post and he left a helmet and a bike lock lying on the ground.
"The witness said he saw the suspect fleeing the scene on his bike.
"It seems to be all over, I saw the helicopter land down by the river and the police are down there."


The Ministry of Education says it's contacted all schools in the area and they have been prompt in keeping children safe.
A hockey tournament at Ashburton College has been cancelled.


All Ministry of Social Development offices in Ashburton, Timaru and Christchurch are closed following the shooting.
Chief executive Brendan Boyle says they are all shocked by the news of this morning's incident.

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