Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Rotorua shooting: Man in critical condition

• A man is in a critical condition after he was shot twice by police on Te Ngae Rd, Rotorua
• He was carrying a long-handled machete and ignored police commands to stop before he was shot
• Police Tasered him three times and pepper sprayed him before using a gun to subdue him
• They believe he was on P, or another substance, at the time

The man shot by police in Rotorua earlier today has been airlifted to a second hospital in a critical condition.

The Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter was sent to Rotorua Hospital, along with an intensive care retrieval team, about 6pm.

The man was flown to Waikato Hospital in critical condition.

Police tonight revealed they had also cordoned off an address that they would search and examine tomorrow.

SHOOTING

A man was running down a Rotorua street armed with a machete before he was shot by police today, say witnesses.

The shooting happening on Te Ngae Rd near the intersection of Marino Rd and Tarawera Rd about 1pm.

Witnesses have described seeing police chase the man through a busy intersection and yelling at him to stop before shooting at him at least twice.

Paramedics and police staff gave the man first aid at the scene and a St John spokesman said he was taken to Rotorua Hospital in a serious condition.

It is the second police shooting in New Zealand this week, after police shot and killed Nick Marshall, 36, in Hamilton on Tuesday night.

Both of the shooting are believed to have involved methamphetamine.

Aftermath of the shooting in Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser
Aftermath of the shooting in Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser

At a press conference this evening, Bay of Plenty District Commander Superintendent Andy McGregor said the man shot this afternoon in Rotorua was in a critical condition.

The man is known to police, lived locally and was believed to be under the influence of "a substance", possibly methamphetamine.

Police Tasered him three times and used pepper spray, but it was unsuccessful in subduing him said McGregor.

He said the incident unfolded when a police officer was driving along Vaughan Rd and "felt a thump" on the side of his car.

"As he has pulled over and got out of his vehicle, he noticed a man acting suspiciously.

"The officer went to speak to the man and noticed him holding a four-foot long slasher. The officer has moved back to the police car at which time the man has attacked it."

He said the man was followed to Marino Rd where he was approached by armed police staff at a commercial premises, believed to be Birchall and Maunder Automotive.

"After multiple requests asking the man to drop his weapon, police sprayed the man with OC spray. This had no effect.

"Staff have then deployed a taser three times in an effort to incapacitate the man with each attempt being unsuccessful."

The man then walked towards Te Ngae Rd, still armed with the slasher.

"Following further warnings by police, an armed officer has then shot the man twice. Based on the information we know at this time, Police believe the man was affected by a substance, possibly methamphetamine."

Police have notified the Independent Police Conduct Authority of the incident and were asking witnesses to come forward.

He said the officer who shot the man was "very upset" and he did not agree with claims that the man was shot "too soon".

The police car damaged near the scene of the shooting in Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser
The police car damaged near the scene of the shooting in Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser

'IT WAS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING'

Local worker, Cerese Ashby, 20, said she was going to get lunch on Tarawera Rd when she saw the man get shot.

"I saw a guy running down the road, he was armed with something but I couldn't tell what. I thought it was a gun at first but it just looked like a big weapon. He was running down the road by the roundabout and the police were chasing him.

"They were yelling at him to get on the ground, they yelled twice but he didn't so then two massive gunshots went off and the guy hit the ground.

"The paramedics went over to him and police went over to him."

Ashby said that the man was not dead.

"He wasn't dead but he was severely injured. They were wiping him down and rolling him in this white foam stuff."

She said the man was fair-headed and pale skinned.

"It was absolutely terrifying, it was not something you want to ever see."

Mark Hughes was driving home for lunch when he inadvertently drove into the middle of the situation.

"I saw the police ahead of me and saw this guy with the gorse cutter, so I went to reverse out of there.

"I was looking to my left and then heard the gunshots and turned back around to see him going down."

Hughes said the man was holding an antique-styled gorse cutter, a machete-type blade on a 1m long handle.

There was a also a police car with smashed-in windows and an officer walking away holding his head being supported by another officer, he said.

"The car was pretty well banged up, and there was a cop who was walking back towards the cordon with his hands on the back of his head and another cop was holding him."

Another witness said she was just 6m from the man as he ran from police.

He was carrying a scrub cutter-type weapon similar to a machete.

She said the man was tall and appeared to be Maori or Pasifika.

"As the man ran from police, the cops stood hesitant while one policeman holding an automatic weapon ran after him, the man...stood in the centre piece of the road still waving the weapon around across from Goughs and the Redwood Centre.

"After the police man saying twice, very quickly 'put down your weapon,' the policeman fired two quick repeated shots on the man to his lower abdomen and below.

"The man dropped to the ground after the two piercing shots sounded."

She said the officers appeared "shocked" and "raised their hands on their heads".

She said paramedics quickly attended to the shot man, who shouted and groaned.

The officer who shot him was "whisked away," she said.

BUSY PART OF TOWN

The shooting happened outside a number of industrial businesses in the suburb of Lynmore.

It is understood that the man ran through Birchall and Maunder Automotive during the incident.

Staff at the business said police told them not to speak with media.

However, staff at nearby businesses said the man had ran through the workshop and was carrying a machete and used it to smash a police car.

There was reports from witnesses that the man injured a police officer and threatened workers at the automotive shop, but those details were yet to be confirmed by police.

Ashby said there was a lot of people around at the time.

"Everyone seemed really shaken up, there was a lot of tension in air.

"At the end of the day you can't take on the police, he shouldn't have been armed and he should have got down on the ground when they asked."

Workers at the nearby Goughs workshop saw the incident unfold, said group chief executive Karl Smith.

"Some of our workers observed the fracas ... we have an open workshop so they were looking out and saw it."

He said the incident was on or near the roundabout.

"The person didn't come through our premises but there was a fair bit of ruckus."

The staff were shaken and Mr Smith said he expected they would give statements to police.

The manager of a nearby business said he heard two gunshots and the police sirens.

Subway employee Sunny Sandhu said he heard three gunshots, and that his other colleagues heard four.

"It was very loud."

He said that it was a very busy time of day in the area and lots of people were around.

SECOND POLICE SHOOTING IN TWO DAYS

In a statement at 1.40pm, police said that the man was shot by police "at an address"on the street.

Cordons were put in place between Vaughan and Allen Mills Rds and motorists were asked to avoid the area, despite some traffic being allowed through from 2.45pm.

"As this is an evolving situation, police will release further information as it becomes available," said the statement.

A Rotorua Daily Post reporter was at the scene shortly after the shooting. She said two ambulances arrived and a man was taken away in one of them.

There were about 15 police officers at the scene and the man was lying on the ground being treated by police before the ambulance arrived.

She said the man didn't seem to be moving and was lying in the median strip of the road.

"Traffic is at a stand-still and is backing up fast," she said.

The reporter said a police officer was being comforted at the scene after the shooting.

There were about eight police cars in the area with officers directing the traffic around the roundabout.

In a media release at 2.45pm, police said traffic was now being let through the scene, but motorists should still expect delays.

The statement confirmed that the man had been given first aid and taken to hospital.

Today's shooting comes after police shot and killed Nick Marshall, 36, in Hamilton on Tuesday night.

Marshall was shot by police after they searched a possible gang pad for methamphetamine.

Police say the man picked up a long-barrelled firearm and cocked it "in very close proximity"to officers at about 6.45pm on Grasslands Place, Frankton.

Officers fired several shots and the man was pronounced dead at the scene, despite first aid attempts.

"IT'S METHAMPHETAMINE"

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said this weeks' shootings was further proof of the damage P causes in our communities.

"Each incident needs to totally be taken on its merits, the only common denominator was methamphetamine. Other than that you have a different group of police officers in completely different parts of the country being confronted with situations where they had used up their other options."

He said access to P was increasing and he had been told that in some communities, it "was easier to get than Cannabis".

"There will be people who are putting blame on the individual police officers, but what they need to do is be looking at what the broader issues are because these are individual people doing the job required of them by the public.

"Police officers don't have the choice not to go out and police and they deserve the support of New Zealanders."


• If you saw today's incident in Rotorua or have any other information about what unfolded please contact Rotorua Police on 07 346 2968 or the anonymous Crimestopper tipline on 0800 555 111

- NZ Herald

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