Shot fired at house nearly ends in tragedy

By Jimmy Ellingham

The Reynolds Street house in Taita, Lower Hutt, that was hit by a single shot in a drive-by shooting. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Reynolds Street house in Taita, Lower Hutt, that was hit by a single shot in a drive-by shooting. Photo / Mark Mitchell

If the bullet that shot through a living room window arrived from the darkness 30 minutes earlier it could have ended in tragedy.

Two-year-old Malachi Sa'u, the youngest of a brood of seven, was sitting by the window until just after 10pm.

When the crack of gunfire pierced the night at 10.48pm on Thursday, Malachi had moved to a mattress on the floor with mum Carol and dad Sonny.

They were sleeping in the ground floor lounge of their two-storey three-bedroom state house in the Hutt Valley suburb of Taita, north of Wellington.

The six other children, aged 7 to 15, were upstairs and out of harm's way. Nobody was injured and today the shooter was still on the loose, leaving the Sa'u family wondering who shot at their house and why.

"We've got nothing against anybody," Mrs Sa'u said.

"We've been in that place for 12 years. We've never had any problems whatsoever.

It's shocked our kids and they're frightened too. We just had to get out."

Shortly before the shooting Mrs Sa'u heard a car driving along Reynolds St.

"There was one car and I heard it stop but I didn't know it stopped in front of our house and then I heard a bit of a bang. Because our van was parked up next to the house on the grass, I thought somebody smacked into it."

Only when Mrs Sa'u peeped behind the curtain did she see the bullet hole in the window, so close to where Malachi often sat.

The shooting has scared the children and the family has moved out of the house to smaller single-level dwelling in Naenae. They said there had been two other similar incidents nearby.

"We moved in yesterday. It's just in the short-term. It's a bit cramped up in here. This is what they could give us."

Four children will share one room, three another and Mr and Mrs Sa'u have a room for themselves too, although just like in Taita, they will spend some nights sleeping in the lounge so their kids have some space.

The house appears to have been modified for a disabled person, as there are ramps, rails and a walk-in shower.

Meanwhile, the family is on a priority list to find them permanent accommodation and hopes to fine one in Naenae.

This afternoon, nobody had been arrested.

Anyone with any information can contact the Lower Hutt Police station on (04) 560 2600.

- Additional reporting Nick Walker

- NZ Herald

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