Akustino Tae fired one round at his former friend Josh Masters, with the bullet lodging in his spinal cavity. With Masters lying on the ground defenceless, Tae kept walking towards him and pointed the gun at his head. He pulled the trigger but nothing happened. The 9mm pistol had jammed.

Killer Beez president Josh Masters has been left paralysed after a bullet fired by his former best friend lodged in his spinal cord.

The feared gang member and former kickboxer now needs caregiver assistance for the rest of his life, according to court documents released to the Herald.

New details of the case have been released by the High Court following the guilty plea of Akustino Tae, Masters' former friend, who this morning admitted a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Tae was one of the original members of the Killer Beez, the street gang led by Masters since the early 2000s, but is now a patched member of the Tribesmen motorcycle gang.


The Killer Beez have long been a feeder gang for the Tribesmen but the summary of facts for the shooting noted "tensions developed" between the gangs after Masters' release from prison in 2018, after coming to the end of a 10-year 5-month sentence for methamphetamine offending.

On April 26, 2019, Masters went to the Auckland Harley Davidson dealership on Mt Wellington Highway to pay for repairs to his motorcycle.

Two minutes after he left the dealership on this motorcycle, Tae and another man arrived in a black Toyota Vitz hatchback.

Masters returned a few minutes later. His motorcycle gear was playing up, so he decided to return to the dealership immediately.

He was wearing a bright white Killer Beez gang patch and was easily recognisable to Tae. As he rode his motorcycle to the service area, Tae pulled out a black semi-automatic 9mm pistol from his pocket.

He fired one shot and the bullet travelled through Masters' left arm, into his side and lodged in the spinal canal.

Masters fell to the ground with the motorcycle on top of him.

Tae tried to manually reload the pistol, by pulling the slide back, without knowing the firearm automatically reloaded a second bullet into the chamber.


His attempt to manually reload the pistol ejected the chambered round into the breech, where it jammed.

By this point, Tae was just a few metres away and pulled the trigger twice more but the pistol failed to fire because of the jam.

He kept walking towards Masters while trying to rack the top slide of the pistol, which ejected the only remaining bullet.

Tae stopped walking when he was standing over Masters and pointed the pistol at his head, pulling the trigger but nothing happened.

Witnesses heard someone yell words to the effect of "I told you not to come around here", then Tae calmly walked back to the Toyota and left.

Later that night, Tae handed himself into the Manukau Police Station and handed over the pistol.


The 40-year-old Tae was initially charged with attempted murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charging of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm this morning, although both offences carry a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Mystery surrounds Tae's motivation for shooting Masters, as neither spoke to the police.

The pair were once very close friends, part of the tight core of the Killer Beez gang which sprouted up in Otara in the early 2000s as a feeder group to the more established Tribesmen motorcycle gang.

The lines between the gangs were so blurred Masters, once described by a High Court judge as a charismatic leader with undoubted business acumen, also held a senior position in the Tribesmen at one point.

Akustino Tae at the Manukau District Court when charged with attempted murder of his former friend Josh Masters. Photo / Doug Sherring
Akustino Tae at the Manukau District Court when charged with attempted murder of his former friend Josh Masters. Photo / Doug Sherring

His profile grew to the point John Campbell interviewed him for prime time television, where Masters denied the Killer Beez had any involvement in methamphetamine.

At the time of the interview, a covert police investigation called Operation Leo was already under way.


More than 110,000 communications were intercepted between February and May 2008 when Masters and 43 other Killer Beez and Tribesmen associates were arrested.

Police seized about $500,000 worth of meth and cannabis, $20,000 cash, a large amount of stolen property, and motorcycles and cars under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

At the time of the arrests, Detective Inspector John Tims - now a deputy commissioner - said the Killer Beez tried to portray themselves as "modern-day Robin Hoods".

"They have attempted to achieve status through music and videos in connection with the youth of our community," said Tims.

"Based on the evidence secured throughout this operation and today, in simple terms they are drug dealers who are causing destruction and chaos in our community by their actions."

For the next four years, Masters dragged out the court case although he was eventually sentenced to 10 years 5 months in prison after pleading guilty to supplying methamphetamine, conspiracy to supply the Class-A drug, and laundering money through his record label.


While the influence of the Killer Beez in the community was greatly diminished by Operation Leo, Masters' army continued to grow inside the prisons where the gang actively recruited.

The "swarm", as members call themselves, now number in the hundreds.

Masters' own behaviour in prison was described as "confrontational and at times intimidatory", according to the Parole Board, while still running the Killer Beez from behind bars.

This was the main reason he was declined release on parole on several occasions until May 2018, when he was no longer considered an "undue risk" to the community.

He now faces a life confined to a wheelchair. Akustino Tae will be sentenced in May.