Palmerston North suburb remains on lockdown as police hunt gunman

By Nicole Barratt, Alecia Rousseau

Caleb Kovaleski has been named as the man at the centre of the siege. Photo / Supplied
Caleb Kovaleski has been named as the man at the centre of the siege. Photo / Supplied

The Palmerston North suburb of Cloverlea remains in lockdown as police continue hunting wanted man Caleb Kovaleski.

Scores of families have spent the night elsewhere in the city as the suburb remains under a tight cordon.

Armed police remained in force on the city's streets looking for the 25-year-old who has now evaded capture since yesterday morning.

Last night police were appealing to people keep all doors and windows fastened. They also wanted people to tell them which homes were empty to sweep the addresses before they returned.

Cloverlea Primary School and Kindergarten will be closed today.

Police would not confirm the armed man's identity while the situation was still unfolding but his adoptive father, Jim Antcliff, told the Herald he been in contact with Kovaleski until yesterday afternoon.

Mr Antcliff had raised Kovaleski since he was 15.

"I got a phone call from his sister saying Caleb needed help again."

He said he rang Kovaleski, who told him he was surrounded by police.

"I was down there straight away, he would have come straight out if police let me in."

Police told Mr Antcliff they needed to follow procedures and kept him behind a cordoned area.

Mr Antcliff had been ringing his son all day, telling him to come out. At about 4.30pm Kovaleski stopped answering his phone, and last night Mr Antcliff said he did not know where his son was.

Kovaleski had made demands to police for "a six pack and a pizza", according to his father.

"It could have been solved hours ago, he'll go all night."

He added that his son was a "good lad, he had a hard upbringing and not necessarily a good start to life".

The man allegedly evaded police during a high speed pursuit.

The police spokeswoman said the pursuit started at 10.45am after an attempt was made to stop a car.

The driver, who was known to police and had warrants for his arrest, fled the scene in a grey Mazda.

Loud bangs were heard in Palmerston North yesterday afternoon when armed police stormed a house as they searched for the fleeing offender.

Residents were last night becoming frustrated as the cordons remained in place. More than 100 people were standing in the carpark of Cloverlea Tavern, but police were letting no one enter the cordoned area.

"You can get out but you can't get in," an NZME journalist reported.

- NZ Herald

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