Police are bolstering their presence on the North Shore after a "frightening" and "brazen" aggravated robbery at a packed pub.
On Saturday moments after the All Blacks game ended about 9.45pm, two masked men dressed in black, one carrying a shotgun, entered the Good Home gastropub in Birkenhead, witnesses have said.
One offender bashed a patron over the head with the butt of the gun, pointed it at staff and fired shots into the ceiling before the pair made off in a white Subaru with cash stolen from the bar. The car was later recovered by police.
It was the third armed robbery of a North Shore pub this year, after similar incidents at the Mad Dogs and Englishmen pub and another at the Good Home in January. All three incidents involved two masked males, with at least one carrying a firearm.
North Shore acting area commander inspector Kevin McNaughton said at this stage there was no information suggesting any of the incidents were linked.
"However, we are keeping an open mind."
Witnesses to Saturday's incident have said the men looked like they knew what they were doing.
One man who tried to apprehend the armed man was bashed in the face.
"I was sitting on the ground and he said, 'Stay down or I'll shoot you'."
The offender then fired warning shots into the ceiling.
Another said people were sheltering for their lives under tables.
"Everybody in the bar was yelling and screaming. I thought somebody was going to be killed."
McNaughton said police were "very concerned" about this type of offending.
"This incident would have been incredibly frightening for those members of the public who were in the bar at the time.
"Police are obviously very concerned by this type of offending and the use of a firearm in such circumstances.
"It was completely brazen and the lack of regard for the public's safety is a huge concern to us."
Police were continuing their inquiries into Saturday's aggravated robbery, including canvassing the wider area for CCTV footage and speaking to witnesses, he said.
"Additional resource has been brought in to assist with this investigation and we will be increasing our visibility in Birkenhead and the wider North Shore area."
The bar is owned by the Birkenhead Licensing Trust, which redistributes profits to the community.
Trust deputy chairman Shane Prince said staff were holding up fairly well given the "traumatic event".
The trust had put in place victim support and counselling for staff and those who were in the bar at the time of the robbery.
"A few have taken it up so far, and I did some welfare checks yesterday and will continue to do so," Prince said.
After closing yesterday for forensic testing the pub had reopened today, but trustees were "concerned" about the incident, the second armed robbery this year, Prince said.
"Trustees will be meeting to review the incident to see if there are any other measures we can put in place."
He said he was not sure if the offenders from the January robbery had been caught, but that it was too early to say if they were connected.
Staff had all received training for potential armed hold ups, which "paid dividends," Prince said.
"Staff kept calm and did what they were told."
He said that message needed to be conveyed to the wider public, after one patron tried to intervene.
"While I can understand why he might have wanted to do that, his actions were wrong.
"When someone waves a shotgun around you should not confront them. Do exactly as they say, let the process run its course.
"When that patron did intervene shots were fired, and fortunately he shot in the air and not across the room."
They were not sure yet how much money had been stolen, but Prince said it was the community, not just the bar, that was the victim.
"It wasn't just the bar but the community that was robbed. Proceeds from the bar go back into the community, sports clubs and schools."
Anyone with information was urged to contact Waitematā District Crime Squad on 09 839 0697, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or by sending a private message to the North Shore, Rodney and West Auckland Facebook page.