A Rotorua taxi driver has been shot after being caught in the crossfire of a firearms incident on the eastern suburbs of Rotorua on Sunday night. Police are piecing together what has happened and a 25-year-old man has been arrested. The taxi driver's boss talks to journalist Kelly Makiha about the dramatic events of the night and how his firm is rallying around their colleague.
A Rotorua taxi driver shot in the crossfire during a police incident with a man in a stolen car is supposed to get married in India this month.
The taxi driver, now in a stable condition in Rotorua Hospital, has two shoulder wounds, his boss, Rotorua Taxi Society chairman George Melrose, said.
Melrose said he visited the driver yesterday morning and he was still sore and partially sedated.
The taxi driver was shot as a man allegedly tried to flee police in a suspected stolen car in Rotorua.
Police have said they were following the suspected stolen car when the driver allegedly stopped and shot at them at 5.35pm on Sunday on Te Ngae Rd, near the intersection at Lynmore Junction.
The bullets hit the patrol car and one also hit the taxi, which was travelling between the stolen car and police.
Melrose said the bullet went through the taxi windscreen and hit the modem on the dashboard, before shattering into pieces. Two of the bullet's shards hit the driver's shoulder.
He said the driver then drove his taxi in to Lynmore Junction to the House of Spice, because he knew someone who worked there, and asked for help.
House of Spice staff said the driver came into their restaurant asking for help, and there was a lot of blood.
Melrose said police were not aware his driver had been hit until later when he arrived at the hospital.
"In hindsight, he should have hit his panic alarm for help but in the heat of everything that happened he just drove to where he knew someone to get help."
Melrose said the taxi driver and his fiancee were due to head to India in 25 days for their wedding.
He said part of the bullet was still in the taxi driver's shoulder and it was likely he would need surgery to remove it, so it was uncertain whether their wedding plans would still go ahead.
Melrose said the taxi driver, who had recently bought into the business and had become one of 29 owners of the company, had just dropped off pilots at Rotorua Airport, a contract they had with Air New Zealand each day, when he was heading back into Rotorua on Te Ngae Rd.
"It was so lucky the pilots weren't still in the vehicle."
He said fellow taxi drivers were rallying around their colleague and were so shocked at what had happened.
"They are queuing up to see him."
During the incident, police said the man in the suspected stolen car allegedly threatened another person further along Te Ngae Rd before taking their car and fleeing again.
That car, travelling at speeds of up to 140km/h, was eventually spiked by police but continued for sometime before stopping on State Highway 30 near Okataina Rd.
The car was driven into a property followed by police. A man was arrested.
A Hamilton man appeared in Rotorua District Court facing two charges relating to the incident.
The man, aged 25, appeared yesterday via audio visual link and did not enter pleas to two counts of robbing two different women of vehicles while armed with a .270 calibre rifle. One vehicle was a Toyota Corolla and the other was a Ford Ranger.
The man was represented by Tim Braithwaite.
Judge Jocelyn Munroe granted interim name suppression and remanded him in custody to reappear on September 16. She also ordered a psychiatric report be done on the man.