In what became known as the Napier Siege, a gunman killed a police officer and injured two others and a civilian. Those shootings began an emergency that lasted 51 hours and saw many acts of bravery. On the eve of the 10th anniversary, four people tell their stories.
It was the worst time of Lenny Holmwood's life and his defining moment.
He's standing in front of 41 Chaucer Rd on Napier's Hospital Hill. He wasn't sure he would be able to go back there. It is the first time since the shootings a decade ago. Many lives were changed that day, suddenly, savagely.
On a shelf at home is a scrapbook fat with clippings. There are bullet fragments in his pelvis.
This place, that time, is the reason Holmwood walks with a limp, why his body cramps and aches when the weather turns bitter. It is also the reason that in a cloth pouch in a corner of the small flat Holmwood shares with a dog named Kūkupa, there is a Bravery Star.
Holmwood's instinctive actions on a road so steep that locals call it Breakneck Hill, are credited with saving the lives of two police officers.
Now 54, he recalls events in typically matter-of-fact fashion. He is not a panicker, he says, though there was hardly time for that when his friend Jan Molenaar grabbed a gun and opened fire on the morning of May 7, 2009.
"It just happened and you reacted," he recalls. "I didn't really have time to think about anything."
Holmwood, who lived near Molenaar, had dropped by to find three police officers executing a search warrant. Cannabis had been smelt at the property from where Molenaar ran a small-time dope growing-and-selling business.
Molenaar was out walking his dog but police showed his partner Delwyn Keefe the warrant and were let in.
Minutes later, Molenaar returned home and immediately became enraged. He ordered them off the property at gunpoint.
While the men stood on the street in front of the house, Molenaar appeared, shouting, on a veranda above and fired a barrage of shots. Len Snee, Grant Diver and Bruce Miller — all senior constables — were hit during those few seconds.
Snee fell, mortally wounded, at the roadside in front of the house. The bullet that hit Diver passed through his right forearm and lodged in his abdomen; Miller was hit in the lower back.
As they staggered up the road, Molenaar came out and took aim.
"That's when we had a little tussle," says Holmwood. "Jan was turning the gun towards them and I grabbed the barrel and turned it away."
Holmwood is small and wiry, while Molenaar had the bulk of a man who trained for years with weights.
"I tried to calm him down [but] he sent me flying and let two bullets rip. One hit the ground under me and one went up through my thigh. The bullet ricocheted across my pelvis and took a piece of my butt cheek."
Molenaar stalked back to his house and continued firing while Holmwood took cover behind a low stone wall, bullets passing over him.
It was the beginning of a tense standoff that ran for three days and involved 100 police at any one time. The Armed Offenders Squad and Special Tactics Group were involved. The Defence Force sent Light Armoured Vehicles, bomb-disposal experts and a specialist robot.
Molenaar fired 147 bullets during that time, while just two shots were fired by a police marksman, before he took his own life.
From behind that low wall, bleeding and with the sound of gunfire amplified by the surrounding hills, Holmwood had tried to reason with Molenaar.
Lying there, he texted a friend: "Jan busted. 3 cops shot. Me leg. Can you feed Scrappy."
"I read it twice," says the recipient, Peter Baker. "I thought, 'what the hell?' That sort of stuff only happens in movies."
Scrappy was Holmwood's cat. "I sent that text and then called 111," he says. "I've always been an animal person. I had birds before and after the shooting, budgies, finches."
These days, his constant companion is Kūkupa, adopted as a puppy from a neighbour.
"Watching someone fade, that was the hardest part of that day, and I couldn't do anything," he says. "I tried to pull him [Len Snee] under cover and a couple of bullets hit the ground.
"I tried to talk to Len for the next five minutes. Then I heard the last breath, the sigh of air. I knew then that he had gone.
"You have got to remember but you have got to move on too. That day, as hard as it was, it was moments. The hardest part has been the long recovery.
"I'm glad I am here but it's been a hard 10 years. Mentally and physically. I've just about lost the battle a couple of times — you know, depression.
"I feel for all those victims in Christchurch. I know what they have gone through and what they will go through."
Holmwood had been laid off from his job in construction and was due to start work at Ocean Spa, on Napier's Marine Parade, with plans to become a lifeguard. The shootings put paid to that. He was in a coma for five days, had several operations and has been left with a floppy foot due to nerve damage.
There have been other jobs but he is currently not employed.
"He's proud. He won't tell you but I was there," says Baker. "He went through so much." Baker counts the cost: the pain, the indignity of a (temporary) colostomy bag, the loss of a lifestyle that revolved around hard work and rugby.
They worked in construction and played Golden Oldies together. "He was a proud working man. He always worked hard. He still does a lot — he looks after the dog and the garden — but he'll never be like he was."
It is strange to think, says Baker, that what took away so much also defined his friend.
A corner of the living room serves as a memorial of sorts. There's a framed photo of Holmwood receiving the bravery award from Sir Anand Satyanand, New Zealand's 19th Governor-General, and personal notes from the prime minister of the time, John Key, and Holmwood's favourite motor racer, Greg Murphy.
Holmwood has no qualms acknowledging he bought cannabis from Molenaar, who, in earlier years, had been his landlord.
But he never smoked with him, he says, and hadn't been beyond the living areas of his house.
Molenaar talked about hunting, so Holmwood assumed he owned a rifle — but the arsenal of weapons, including military-style semi-automatics, found in the house afterwards was as much a surprise to him as to the police.
He clearly had a short fuse and, according to some, was paranoid about losing his house in a desirable part of the city.
But, says Holmwood, he would help a mate out.
"A lot of people would say he was a good fella. He was a hard fella. He would help you but if you mucked him around... He would have been sorry for what he had done. It was all such a bloody waste."
"Oh God. 2009!"
It is as though Mike O'Leary is talking to himself in Napier's old police station on Station Rd.
Most of the staff have moved to a new building next door and the rest will go when a new station opens soon in Hastings.
Almost deserted, it's a building with a past, as good a place as any for ghost stories. Investigations into the murders of teenager Kirsa Jensen and 6-year-old Teresa Cormack were run from here.
This is where Sam Hoyle, who was Eastern District commander, came when Molenaar went ballistic.
O'Leary and Hoyle, a superintendent who now runs Wellington District, were getting coffee together before a joint emergency services planning seminar got under way when Hoyle's phone rang.
"He waved me over and said, 'Three cops have been shot'," recalls O'Leary.
"I didn't believe it would be in Hawke's Bay and I asked, 'Where?"'
"Things then went from zero to a million miles an hour."
While Hoyle went to the police station to oversee the operation, O'Leary went to the top of Chaucer Rd to take forward command, to make the calls that the AOS commander didn't have to.
The AOS were at the forefront, putting their lives at risk, locating and extracting the wounded, while O'Leary's job was to understand the big picture, turn chaos into control and, most importantly, determine exactly where the shooter was.
It was fluid and dangerous. There were people in neighbouring houses; at least two members of the public were on the road helping with the injured.
"I remember thinking, 'Sh**. You train and you prepare but you hope you will do what has to be done and do it well'."
O'Leary didn't know it then but he knew all three police officers; he and Diver were in the same 1983 recruit wing, he played rugby against Snee at school and with him in the police.
When he got to the top of Chaucer Rd, Miller was being put into an ambulance. "It was, 'Oh my God, this is reality', when you see someone bleeding and in shock."
Diver and Holmwood had still to be recovered.
"The cordons were being put in place, we were starting to get control but you just heard this rapid high-velocity fire from a powerful weapon. It was like something you see on TV."
O'Leary could scarcely believe it. He had returned to work days earlier having taken time off "to get my head sorted", having pulled two children from a burning van involved in a head-on crash that killed five people.
He was with family returning from a funeral. "We were following a van. There was this incredible bang, an explosion. The van went from moving horizontally at about 95km/h to vertical, just like a rocket taking off. It came down on its tail and barrel-rolled."
O'Leary doesn't mention it but reports about the accident on SH1 between Tokoroa and Taupō record that his arm was burned during the rescue for which he received a bravery award.
Initially, word at the top of Chaucer Rd was that the gunman was mobile, which would have been a real headache because across the road is a colonial-era cemetery and the Napier Botanical Gardens — trees, bushes, gullies and members of the public.
It was difficult terrain for authorities. On the crest of Hospital Hill is the disused building the area gets its name from. On land sloping south towards the gunman's home are the gardens and cemetery, separated by a path named Military Track.
Snipers were stationed among headstones like Harry O'Kane Murty's — died 1915, aged 33 — not 50m from the house. Hard to imagine such mayhem on this still autumn day. Instead of gunshots there is birdsong and from the gardens, the sound of children at play.
Molenaar's house was orange then. It has been painted a muted green. On a driveway a few doors up, firewood lies waiting to be squirrelled away. Down the hill, a shackle outside another property announces Hill Haven Bed and Breakfast.
The pieces have been picked up and life has carried on, though for many not as it was.
"I don't know how to describe it," O'Leary says, "but these events remain in your consciousness. They just don't go away. The job that we do, we have events that will remind you."
After it was over, O'Leary walked through the property. "I was pretty stunned. He'd set himself up in the back bedroom and smashed holes through the walls to give himself sighting of people coming in. I saw the weapons, smelt the oil."
There were booby traps, more than 3000 rounds of ammunition, Ned Kelly-style body armour.
The shooter had 36-degree vision from the Hobbit House — a two-storey tower he'd built to a size that avoided the requirement of council consent.
"It was a very awkward house to approach. The phrase tactically aware has been used. You'd have to say that he was."
A coronial inquiry heard that Molenaar, a former Army Territorial, had 17 firearms — two-thirds of them military-style semi-automatic rifles or pump-action or semi-automatic shotguns. He was preparing for a war with someone and becoming increasingly agitated and yet he was under the radar. There was nothing on the police database — the National Intelligence Application — to indicate Molenaar had weapons, nothing about his mental state or his drug dealing.
O'Leary: "It angers me that there were people around who knew what he was doing at that house and no one bothered to tell us and our staff walked into it, defenceless and unprepared.
"I guess my point is, if you know something and you feel uneasy about it, let us suss it out for the safety of everyone. There's no use having regrets later."
When Superintendent Sam Hoyle speaks to the Weekend Herald for this article, he is busy planning police security for the many Anzac Day commemorations up and down the country. The nation is still on high security following the terrorist attack that killed 50 people.
Stricter gun laws being enacted are a direct result of those crimes but would they have changed anything that day in Napier?
"You would expect the changes would take a lot of those sorts of weapons out of circulation," says Hoyle. "And having fewer of them is a good thing, no question, but he was acting illegally under the laws of the time."
Tighter gun laws can only ever be part of the answer. "There are people with those sorts of illegal caches who have ill intent. That's where we rely so much on the public telling us."
Whether laws that will reduce the number of semi-automatic weapons in circulation would have made it more difficult for Molenaar to accumulate his arsenal is a moot question.
In his 2010 report into the deaths, Coroner David Crerar recommended the sort of review now being done. "Tracking [military-style semi-automatics] and confirming the type of firearm that is a MSSA must be looked at again," he wrote.
Tracking firearms used to be done but was abandoned in favour of licensing owners.
Investigations after the siege indicate Molenaar surrendered his licence 15 years earlier and had accumulated guns illegally.
What might be done differently 10 years on? There is different equipment, training, protocols for assessing risk around search warrants but Hoyle believes the response to the shootings would be the same.
A helicopter? "It would just be something else for him to shoot at. All those things were discussed early on but when you see the ground you appreciate that people have to sneak in close. The main thing was that he couldn't leave the address and go mobile."
Hoyle's abiding impressions are disbelief, pride and relief.
"I still remember the phone call that three of our guys had been shot ... and then learning what the warrant was, and it was minor. The reaction just didn't match. It was more disbelief than shock."
He is proud of the efforts of many, particularly police staff, ambulance officers and a couple of members of the public who came down from the top of the hill and recovered the injured. "A number of people acted courageously in that first hour or so."
And Holmwood, "a scrawny fellow, he really put it on the line".
The relief was that no one else was hit. "He fired well over a hundred shots at our staff, or where he thought they were. He was firing into people's houses across the valley on Enfield Rd.
"I think a lot of good came out of what was a terrible, tragic, event. In many ways it brought parts of the community and police closer together. Len's funeral was amazing, an incredibly emotional thing to be part of. Central Napier closed down. That is something that will stay with me forever."
Snee's name is the last on the remembrance wall at the police college — the 29th officer to be killed on duty by a criminal act. "I'd love it to stay that way."
When he heard a volley of gunshots, Ken Cooper rang 111 and asked, was there an exercise going on? Then bullets began ripping through his house.
Cooper lived on Enfield Rd, directly across the valley and a little higher than the gunman's property. He watched him go to the back of his section and try to escape.
"He scrambled along the bank and then came back. I was on my balcony with binoculars and on the phone to police telling them what I could see. For him to take shots at the house, I thought he must have had an inclination of what I was doing."
Over the three days, Cooper's house was hit by 45 bullets causing $45,000 damage. The kitchen was wrecked, the aluminium joinery destroyed.
Because of its vantage point, snipers used the house while Cooper hunkered down in the basement of neighbour John Pryor's house, which was also under fire.
Their properties were among 85 within the cordon, their occupants trapped.
It happened to be Pryor's 58th birthday and he would sneak up to his kitchen for supplies.
"My neighbour was quite a collector of whisky and fine foods, so we had two or three days getting to know each other.
"It was a huge surprise for someone to just snap, someone who had all of those weapons."
For a long time, Cooper, who is now Hawke's Bay Fire Service commander, kept a spent shell. "It is a sharp reminder that you have to live life because you just don't know what might happen."
Cooper's wife was at work at the time, their sons in kindy and school. Now aged 16 and 14, the boys have watched the documentary, Siege, about the events.
"The bottom line, which I keep telling them, is you can't let people like this beat you, make you change the way you live your life.
"We are seeing that now with the response to Christchurch. You can't give in to violence, to terrorism."
Timeline of a siege
Thursday, May 7
9.30am: Senior Constables Len Snee, Bruce Miller and Grant Diver arrive at the home of Jan Molenaar, to serve a cannabis search warrant. Snee is shot dead. The other officers and civilian Lenny Holmwood are shot and wounded.
9.40am: Police cordon off surrounding area and evacuate residents.
10.00am: The injured officers Bruce Miller and Grant Diver are taken to hospital.
11.03am: Police announce that three police officers have been involved in a shooting. Two have been injured and are in hospital. A third officer is unaccounted for at this stage.
12.25pm: More shots are fired, police talk to Molenaar through a loud hailer after which more shots are fired.
8.05pm: The Special Tactics Group arrives.
Friday May 8
4.35pm: Two of the army's Light Armoured Vehicles, followed by a police car with officers and a police dog inside, enter the cordoned area.
5.00pm: The body of Leonard Snee retrieved by Police. Later that night, police dog Fi rescued from Diver's van.
Saturday 9 May
3.30am: A volley of shots and a large explosion are heard.
12.00pm: Police discover the body of shooter Jan Molenaar in the first-floor master bedroom. The house contains 18 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, booby-traps, body armour, an indoor cannabis-growing operation and $20,000 cash.
February 8, 2010: Bruce Miller and Grant Diver return to work.
April 16, 2010: The Crown lodge a successful application for the forfeiture of 41 Chaucer Rd under the Proceeds of Crimes Act.
September 4, 2010: Coroner David Crerar calls for review of Arms Act in his report into the deaths of Senior Constable Snee and gunman Jan Molenaar, says policy regarding military-style weapons must be looked at but also laid blame with those who supplied guns to Molenaar.
June 30, 2011: Fourteen people receive New Zealand Bravery Awards at Government House in Wellington.