Murdered Auckland bank teller John Vaughan paid with his life when he tried to protect a fellow worker from a gunman police have called a "cold-blooded killer".
The gunman, who police believe also shot dead pizza bar worker Marcus Doig a week ago, began screaming obscenities at a woman behind the inquiry counter at the Mangere Bridge branch of the ASB Bank shortly after midday yesterday.
The man was armed with a sawn-off rifle, believed to be a .22 calibre, and demanded money.
However, ASB managing director Hugh Burrett said Mr Vaughan stepped from behind a protected, high-security teller area and told the gunman the woman had no money.
The gunman switched his attention to Mr Vaughan who followed orders and filled a bag with money.
Mr Burrett said Mr Vaughan was standing with his hands in the air in a surrender position when the gunman, who already had the money, shot him in the head.
Mr Vaughan died in Middlemore Hospital last night after medical staff had kept him alive on a life-support machine long enough for his elderly mother Margaret and his nine-year-old son Ben to say goodbye.
Mr Burrett said the gunman was abusive and screaming when he first approached the woman.
"John said to him, 'Look she has got no money, I am the one with the money, you come through here and I will look after you'," Mr Burrett told NZPA today.
He said Mr Vaughan did exactly as his training had taught him and obeyed the orders of the gunman without hesitation or "aggro".
"He was standing there with his hands up and he got shot. In these situations you have got to say is there anything you can do if you have got a mad man or whatever he is."
He said bank staff were shattered at the brutal death of a "lovely fellow and a very likeable and genuine man".
He said his efforts to protect the woman probably cost him his life, which was particularly devastating because the killer had the money.
"Normally they (bank robbers) would leave and you wouldn't have this.
"It has hit all of us."
Mr Burrett said a reward had yet to be discussed with police but the bank would provide money if the police asked.
Yesterday, police said if anyone who knew the killer or his accomplice was motivated by money, police would see they were looked after financially if they gave information that led to an arrest.
"We haven't had that discussion, obviously we would help if we could. We will do what we have to do," Mr Burrett said.
Mr Burrett said ASB had searched internationally for the state-of-the-art security already installed in the bank, but would fully review security after the tragedy.
"We have got the best that we believe you can get. But having said that, when things like this happen you have got to review it. You have got to ask the questions and go over it and under it and around it again."
He said short of running a fortress there was not a lot more banks could do to guard against the sort of armed robbery which happened yesterday.
However, he said he doubted the killing would lead to the closure of some branches.
Mr Burrett said staff who had been next to Mr Vaughan when he was gunned down could take years to recover from the emotional trauma.
Counsellors had been with bank staff and Mr Vaughan's elderly and frail mother Margaret.
Mr Burrett said when he first learned of the robbery his worst fear had come to fruition.
It got worse moments later when he learned Mr Vaughan had been shot, then that he would not live, and finally, that he had died at 7.55pm yesterday.
He said staff would be offered whatever counselling they needed.
Security had been increased at many bank branches, he said.
As the hunt for the gunman widened and detectives from central Auckland and Hamilton joined the inquiry team, the armed offenders squad was placed on high alert after a full briefing on the killing.
Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said uniformed police had also been fully briefed on a description of the man and the black or dark blue car with a spoiler on the boot which was believed to have been the getaway car.
However, Ms Hegarty would not confirm that uniformed police were all armed as they hunted for the killer.
"All the staff in Auckland City and Counties-Manukau have been fully briefed on the modus operandi and the description of this offender."
She said all police knew what firearms were available.
"They are fully aware of who they can contact at short notice."
She said numerous calls had been made to the police hotline but none of the callers gave a name.
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