Two men, one of them a Napier nightclub staff member, have been shot in a drive-by gang shooting outside one of the city's main nightlife hotspots.
More than 20 police officers - many armed - were at 12.30am on Sunday swarming West Quay, Ahuriri - a thriving bar and club scene.
A man in his 20s and a man in his 30s were taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital with moderate to serious injuries. One remained in hospital on Sunday afternoon in a stable condition.
Police said five men in a vehicle had driven up to a bar in West Quay and fired shots at a group of people, who appeared to be known to them, standing outside.
"One of the men standing outside the bar sustained an injury to their hand and a bar staff member sustained an injury to their groin," a police spokeswoman said.
"The Criminal Investigation Branch is currently investigating and more information will be released when it becomes available."
In response, police have increased presence in the region and have authorised temporary carriage of firearms for staff across Hawke's Bay – a decision which is reviewed daily.
Revellers spilled into the streets in the chaotic aftermath of the shooting, many in shock at what they had witnessed.
Hana, from the Czech Republic, said she was waiting near the head of a 20-strong queue to get into the Thirsty Whale nightclub when a large fistfight between about a dozen people broke out on the footpath nearby.
A small group of people then peeled off from the fight and jumped into a parked car on West Quay, she said.
"Suddenly they were shooting," she said, referring to one of the people in the car.
"I dunno, I was in shock, like I couldn't move. I was just trying to hide myself somewhere but I was in shock and I didn't do anything. There was some kind of barrel at the bar entrance and I hid myself behind it."
Hana said she witnessed the barrel of a gun appear from the car window, masked by clothing, before watching as between three and five shots were fired.
At least two men were shot and injured, one in the shoulder-to-arm area, and another in the leg or groin region, she said.
Both the men she saw get shot were bleeding but conscious in the minutes after the incident, she said.
A Hawke's Bay District Health Board spokeswoman said a man in 20s and a man in his 30s were taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital and were in a stable condition.
Hana said in the aftermath of the shooting, there was significant fear among those outside.
One of the men involved in the fight, who wasn't in the car, ran into her eyeline and she thought to herself: "'OMG, they will be shooting at him, and if they shoot at him here, I will get shot'."
Security barricaded in the people already inside the Thirsty Whale and Hana remained outside until the gate was lifted and she was able to join her friends inside. The bars in the area were then shut down.
Cacia Wiggins was inside the Thirsty Whale at the time of the shooting and said the roller doors immediately came down before she was eventually evacuated out a back entrance.
"They had blocked off the streets all through Ahuriri and had what looked like 20-plus officers spread out through the streets armed and waiting.
"I kept asking if they had found the shooters but I never got a straight answer."
Hana, who has been travelling in New Zealand since September 2019, said she could not believe the amount of violence she had witnessed in the country. She has had to visit a police station seven times in the 18 months she's been here.
"I would like to say that New Zealand is considered a safe place but that's not true."
"Every single city, something happens."
HAWKE'S BAY POLICE DISTRICT COMMANDER SAYS EXTENSIVE INVESTIGATION COMING
Hawke's Bay District Commander, Superintendent Jeanette Park said the incident is believed to have stemmed from an earlier altercation between rival gangs who were in the West Quay Area in Ahuriri overnight.
"The actions of those responsible for the overnight events on West Quay will be the focus of an extensive on-going police investigation.
"The scene examination and review of significant CCTV footage is a current focus for the investigation team.
Park said police recognised that incidents like these are concerning for communities.
As part of the ongoing investigation, police will be making every effort to talk to community partners to re-establish calm in the community.
"Police acknowledge there have been a number of reported incidents involving the discharge of firearms across various locations in Hawke's Bay and Wairoa, in particular over recent weeks – these events continue to be investigated as police attempt to establish the identity of those responsible.
"Over recent weeks a number of search warrants have been executed across Eastern District focussing on offending involving the use of firearms with a number of arrests made and firearms and ammunition recovered.
The unlawful discharge of firearms is never acceptable let alone in a public place risking the lives of hospitality workers and members of the public."
Police are interested in any sightings of the vehicle or people involved in the incident and ask that if anyone has any information or video footage of the incident, could they please contact 105 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.