Family friend Stan Tristam, who wor' />

Len Snee's family say they will remember him as a wonderful husband, father and brother who loved his career.

Family friend Stan Tristam, who worked with the senior constable for several years, read a statement from Mr Snee's widow Vicki and adult sons Sam and Joe.

"We are grieving the loss of a wonderful husband, father and brother. Len loved his family and he loved his job. He gave it 100 per cent and was totally dedicated to everything he did.

"He was a private person and a man of few words. He was proud to be a policeman and proud to be an armed offenders squad officer."

Mr Snee, 53, was shot dead in Napier on Thursday. His body remained where it fell for more than a day as police came under fire trying to retrieve it.

Mr Tristam said the slain officer had loved sport, especially rugby, and had still been playing for Napier Technical Old Boys.

Mr Snee was among those involved in the hunt for killer Terence Thompson after the April 1996 shooting of Hastings constable Glenn McKibbin in Flaxmere, the Hawke's Bay Today reported.

He also helped in the November 2003 hunt for businessman Graham Walsh, who took his own life after firing on and wounding Constable Warren Smith in Hastings.

And he was first on the scene of the August 2004 sniper-killing of farmer Jack Nicholas in the remote Hawkes Bay farming area of Puketitiri.

"We are struggling to come to terms with what has happened," Mr Snee's family said. "We know we have some difficult times ahead of us.

"We're also thinking of the other victims who were shot and injured. Our best wishes go to those men and their families."