Police are still looking for the robbers behind a vicious attack that saw a Hamilton dairy worker lose two fingers as he defended himself.
The victim has now undergone an eight-hour surgery to have the fingers reattached.
Meanwhile, a neighbour who heroically intervened has spoken of his terrifying ordeal after rushing into the chaos.
The attack happened at the Irvine St Dairy in Frankton just after the worker had opened the dairy for the day’s trading on Saturday.
Detective Senior Sergeant Kristine Clarke is urging witnesses to come forward if they had any information that can help police.
Clarke said police were called to the scene about 7.30am and on arrival discovered a man outside the premises with a serious injury to his hand.
She said first aid was immediately administered and he was transported to hospital where he remains in a stable condition.
“We understand this is a distressing incident that will cause a great deal of concern to the wider community,” Clarke said.
“Police are committed to finding those responsible and holding them accountable, and we are following several lines of inquiry.”
Clarke said police would like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident or events immediately after, or who has information about those involved.
“We would also like to hear from anyone who has private CCTV in the immediate area or surrounding streets, which may have captured footage of use to the investigation,” she said.
A neighbour, who spoke to news website Stuff on condition of anonymity, said he ran to the dairy to help while still half asleep on Saturday morning.
“I started hearing screaming noises and realised something was wrong,” the neighbour told the news website.
“So I ran out not even thinking about it. I was ill-prepared.”
The neighbour confronted the robbers in front of the store and was punched, knocked out and had a machete swiped across his leg.
“When I arrived on site I just saw one person, the fog cannon was already activated and the shopkeeper was inside screaming.
“I didn’t know there were others. Then three others were there too, and I didn’t know they were armed.
“I didn’t expect to be punched. But I would rather get knocked out if it helps the shopkeeper.
“To me, I wasn’t great, I could have done something more. It is a blessing I walked away with grazes.”
Dairy owner Puneet Singh told the Herald this morning that he would be visiting his injured employee later today.
According to Singh, four people entered the store around 7.30am yesterday, and his employee did not have time to hit the panic button or set off a fog cannon before he was viciously attacked with a machete by one of the robbers.
“They attacked him. We have fog cannons and panic buttons installed but there was no time for the worker to press it,” Singh said.
“He ran out the back to find safety, but two robbers chased him with their machetes, he covered his head with his hands for protection.
“They attacked him and two of his fingers were chopped off, fell on the ground. He had a lot of blood loss, there is blood on the ground even right now.”
Singh said the worker is about to become a father, his pregnant wife came to the shop, and she was “really upset”.
“As soon as I received a call from him I rushed to the shop and I saw him, he was screaming and crying. He was getting in and out of unconsciousness.”
A neighbour came to help the dairy worker but was knocked down by the robbers, Singh said.
He said the robbers had stolen a large number of cigarettes and tobacco products from the shop: “The law of the country is bad, even if these people get arrested they’ll be out in six months and reoffend. There is no strict action and the police have no power.
“I have a young family and we are all scared to come to work but we have no option, we need to pay our bills and mortgage.
“If these incidents keep happening we will have no workers.”
Singh said the Government should act urgently instead of “waiting for more people to die”.
Last month, Rose Cottage Superette worker Janak Patel, 34, was stabbed to death in Sandringham, Auckland.
Anyone with information that can help with the investigation is urged to contact police on 105 or at https://www.police.govt.nz/use-105 ‘Update My Report’ referencing file number 221217/6333.
They can also call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.