In seven minutes, 20 shots were fired at police before they returned fire and fatally shot a man who they say was linked to an alleged double homicide earlier this week.

A day later, police arrested another man in relation to the deaths.

On Thursday, a shootout left a police patrol car riddled with bullets and a man - who police wanted to speak to in relation to the alleged double homicide inside a property at Ormsby Lane, McLaren Falls on Tuesday night - with fatal injuries.

A police search team scour the roads after a man was shot while fleeing police. Photo / Andrew Warner
A police search team scour the roads after a man was shot while fleeing police. Photo / Andrew Warner

READ MORE:
Congestion from SH2 closure highlights Tauranga's poor transport network - business leader
Man linked to Tauranga double homicide shot dead by police after pursuit
Child seen running from Tauranga home where two men shot dead at McLaren Falls
Teens arrested after airgun shooting spate

Advertisement

The victims are believed to be Paul Lasslett, 43, who owned the property, and Nick Littlewood, 32.

There were several police patrols on the corner of Otumoetai Rd and Bellevue Rd when they noticed a vehicle which was wanted in relation to the homicide, district commander Superintendent Andy McGregor said yesterday.

Four officers and two police cars were involved in the pursuit. The officers were armed offenders staff.

Police followed the vehicle on to Millers Rd where they put on their lights and sirens. The vehicle did not stop, carrying on towards Carmichael Rd, McGregor said.

Along Carmichael, the driver leaned out the driver's side and fired a "volley of shots" at police. He kept a speed of 40kmh to 50kmh as he fled. Officers held their distance throughout the pursuit which lasted about seven minutes, McGregor said.

"At one stage [the offender] actually stopped the vehicle, got out, and took deliberate aim at the police vehicle and fired another volley of shots."

He then turned left on to State Highway 2 towards to the Tauranga CBD and fired more shots. Near the intersection of State Highway 2 and Fifteenth Ave, the driver fired another round of shots but the police returned fire, injuring the offender, McGregor said.

About 20 shots were fired by the offender and McGregor said it was believed to be a small-calibre weapon and a semi-automatic because of the number of, and how quickly, the shots were fired.

Advertisement

It was not known how many shots had been fired by police.

An out-of-district team had come in to investigate the incident on behalf of the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The vehicle slowly came to a stop. The officers went forward and then called for medical assistance.

Traffic builds up on Waihi Rd as police search the area after a man was shot while fleeing police. Photo / Andrew Warner
Traffic builds up on Waihi Rd as police search the area after a man was shot while fleeing police. Photo / Andrew Warner

The man's wounds proved fatal and police were yet to formally identify him.

While there were members of the public around the suburbs of Bethlehem and Tauranga throughout the exchange, no members of the public were injured.

"That's why we come to work, to keep our community safe and we had to apprehend this person before he killed someone," McGregor said.

He said the dramatic event left the officers involved distraught and shaken.

About 45 officers were working on the McLaren Falls alleged double homicide and about 10 to 15 working on Thursday's shooting, McGregor said.

Patrols have been upped in the area. Eight to 10 officers from Rotorua and about a dozen from outside the district had been bought in to help with community reassurance patrols.

"I just wanted to reassure the people of Tauranga, the community there, that they are safe," he said.

"That we are talking about one motivated offender here, who did not want to be captured by police."

Road block at Bethlehem roundabout. Photo / Andrew Warner
Road block at Bethlehem roundabout. Photo / Andrew Warner

While no one from the public was injured, they came close to the danger.

A witness told NZME he could saw a man's body on the ground and a nearby car appeared to have been run off the road.

Armed police officers stood near a man's body.

"There were police in black - like what the armed offenders squad wears," they said.

Residents reported shots and saw police with guns, as well as an ambulance, rushing towards the area.

One person said there were "a number of families out walking" as shots were fired out the window of a fleeing car.

"[It was] bloody lucky no one got hit."

She said locals feared the violence continuing and Carmichael Rd resident said neighbours and herself were in fear and in lockdown.

They were worried about their mokopuna and the local schools in the area if the problem continued.

"Something needs to be done. It's scary. Now we are wary of people."

Witness Shianne Ormsby said she saw "a huge amount of police respond" to the situation.

"Little did I know they'd be a few metres from my house blocking off the main set of lights, all while being armed."

Mike Dork who worked in the area, said he saw up to 10 undercover police cars screaming southbound down SH2.

Another resident said she heard multiple rounds of gunshots ring through the air and the rush of police cars chasing the offender.

The next day, a reporter at the scene said multiple police were seen checking the road outside Bethlehem Primary yesterday morning in what appeared to be looking for evidence.

Bethlehem's Bob Owens Retirement Village residents saw police heard gunshots and saw police picking up bullet cartridges from the road, spokesman David King said.

He said a number of residents heard shots fired on Thursday night but had "taken it in their stride" and were all fine.

King said there was no damage to any of the property.

A Tauranga mother has been left badly shaken and disturbed after her two sons were riding their bikes across the road as a fleeing gunman exchanged a volley of shots with police in front of them.

The mother, who did not want to be named, said her sons had been riding around on their bikes across the road and were returning home about 7.40pm when the shooting unfolded in front of them on Carmichael Rd in Bethlehem.

She said one of her sons told her that he had hid behind a parked car as the gunshots rang out, while his brother stood and watched the drama unfolded.

"It was all very scary and too close to home," she said.

She said she was inside trying to put her 6-year-old daughter to bed and her husband was watching television, when she heard a car coming up Carmichael Rd "very fast" and then lots of sirens.

"Knowing my boys were playing across the road at Bethlehem Primary school, I was a bit panicky they might get hit while trying to cross the road," she said.

"We live right on the roundabout of Carmichael Rd and Bethlehem Rd, and my boys told me the chased driver turned left down Bethlehem Rd before fleeing down another road and the police were chasing him."

She said she did not hear any gunshots herself so when her sons came home and told her they saw the man in the car with a gun and he was shooting at the police, she did not believe them at first.

Her son also told her that the man being chased was driving "a very old car" and was wearing dark sunglasses and dark-coloured hoodie, she said. She said she later learned the man had indeed been shooting at police and had been shot dead.

Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell said he was "very concerned" about an innocent member of the public becoming collateral damage in the gang turf wars.

"The weapons that are being used have a maximum effective range of 500 to 600 metres ... a bullet that's got long range and can do a lot of damage."

"I'm very proud to be part of this community; the police are doing a great job under incredibly difficult circumstances."

Yesterday, a Bay of Plenty man, 25, was arrested in Christchurch in relation to the alleged double homicide.

The arrest involved Police's Special Tactics Group, Armed Offenders Squad, Armed Response Team and Investigations staff.

Police believed the man arrested and the man shot on Thursday were known to each other.

The Commissioner of Police, Mike Bush, thanked all involved for their professionalism in bringing the serious incident to a safe conclusion.

A community meeting would be held with Powell, Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber and two police commanders in the coming weeks to discuss what was happening.

A date is yet to be confirmed.