A child was seen running from a house where two men were shot dead last night after a volley of gunshots rang out.

Police have launched a homicide inquiry after a firearms incident at McLaren Falls near Tauranga.

Police were called to a property on Ormsby Lane at 7.40pm yesterday after reports shots had been fired.

A neighbour saw a child running from the property looking for help after the shooting.

Advertisement

Another resident told the Herald a neighbour had heard a large number of shots while walking his dogs last night.

The resident, who spoke on the condition he was not named, said his neighbour was adamant it was an automatic weapon not a semi-automatic.

The man said he was unaware anything untoward had happened until multiple police arrived and cordoned off the road.

"We have been in lockdown ever since and can't leave our properties."

Paul Lassett is understood to have owned the property for about 5 or 6 years.

"I hope it isn't him we have known each other for a long time and work together when it comes to our water supply."

The man said he had not heard from any occupants from the property since the shooting had come to light.

It's believed up to five people lived at the property where the shooting happened, including possibly a young child. The resident said on the property of interest, was a caravan, a single-storey house and a large shed occupied by property owner.

Advertisement

It remained under guard by two Armed Offenders Squad members standing at the front gate, about 10 metres from a large shed inside the property boundary, he said.

Most residents spoken to in McLaren Falls Rd said they did not hear or see anything other than up to eight police vehicles turn up last night, along with emergency service vehicles.

A woman who lives in McLaren Falls Rd said: "It's scary to think someone is still running around with a gun, it's a bit too close to home".

Another resident said he did not know who had died but given Ormsby Lane was a little road occupied by nine to 10 houses the shooting would have a huge impact on their little community.

A report that a young child was seen running from the property was quite possible as several children live in the street, the resident said.

"None of us can get in or out of our street and it would be nice if the police came and talked to us about how long the cordon will still in place," a neighbouring resident said.

Advertisement

Property records list the owner as Paul Lasslett, who was reportedly sentenced to jail for 15 months in 2009 after admitting cultivating cannabis and permiting a premise to be used for cultivating and possessing cannabis.

That sentence was reduced to community work and supervision on appeal, Stuff reported.

"A homicide inquiry has been launched following the death of two people at an Omanawa property last night, said Detective Inspector Mark Loper, district manager criminal investigations.

"Upon arrival, two men were found deceased."

Police were working to understand "the full circumstances of what has occurred", Loper said.

A scene examination will continue at the property today.

Advertisement

A Bay of Plenty Times reporter at the scene this morning said two armed police were standing at the entrance of Ormsby Lane.

Armed police at a cordon at the entrance to Ormsby Lane. Photo / Alan Gibson
Armed police at a cordon at the entrance to Ormsby Lane. Photo / Alan Gibson

A St John Ambulance spokesman said three ambulances and a manager in a jeep were sent to the scene last night.

Police were asking the public to avoid the area. A scene guard remained at the property overnight.

About six police cars were at the falls, one ambulance and one fire truck.

Fire and Emergency and St John directed inquiries to police.

Police asked for anyone who had witnessed suspicious behaviour in the area around the time of the incident, or anyone with knowledge of those involved, to get in touch.

Advertisement

They were asked to call Bay of Plenty police on 105, or give information anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A series of shootings

The men's deaths follow a series of brazen tit-for-tat shootings with semi-automatic firearms and a suspected arson in the Bay of Plenty earlier this month.

The Mongols are one of the most notorious bikie gangs in the world and their arrival in the region last year has fuelled simmering tensions with established Tauranga gangs like the Greazy Dogs and the Mongrel Mob.

Police had warned the Australian newcomers, such as the Mongols and Comancheros, would radically change the criminal landscape as they were hardened from inter-gang warfare with firearms.

Predictions of armed conflict came true as a residential home in the Tauranga suburb of Hairini was riddled with bullets.

Five children were believed to be in the lounge at the time, and shocked neighbours say "sheer luck" was the only reason no one was killed or injured.

Advertisement

Police collected dozens of bullet casings, believed to have been fired by semi-automatic firearms, from the property believed to be linked to the Mongrel Mob.

The daytime shooting at a suburban house was suspected to be an act of revenge, or warning, following the suspicious arson of a Greerton business a day earlier.

The Faded N Bladed barber shop and tattoo studio on Chadwick St was gutted by fire. Police believe the barber shop, which is yet to open for business, has links with the Mongols.

Detectives investigating the shooting at Hairini are working on the theory the attack was ordered by the Mongols, who blame the Mongrel Mob for the barber shop fire.

The conflict escalated within hours, with reports of semi-automatic gunshots at a rural address in Te Puke where members of the Mongol Nation live.

Following those incidents, Tauranga mayor Tenby Powells called for more resources to crack down on gangs in the Bay following a spree of violent attacks.

Advertisement

Local businesses had already become "collateral damage" and it was only a matter of time before members of the public would be "caught in the crossfire" between warring gangs, he said.