Armed man shot by police at a New Zealand McDonald's

IT was an ordinary day in Upper Hutt - until the gunshots rang out. Armed with a high-powered rifle, a man in his 20s made his way to McDonald's on Main Street.

He fired two shots while walking along the drive-through, and people began to call 111. It was 12.30pm. Within an hour the man was dead, shot by police.

At 12.41pm, Chris Atkinson received a text message from his wife, who was inside McDonald's. "Babe, there's an armed guy sitting next to me in the restaurant," it read.

"She said that he stood up and told everyone that he had a weapon and they should leave," Mr Atkinson said.

John Philipson, 84, was "within a couple of arm lengths" from the gunman in the family restaurant.

"All of a sudden I heard what I thought was a firecracker. I thought it was those bloody kids and then I looked up and saw a guy with a rifle. I was about to remonstrate with him and try to placate him but a bloke behind me says, 'Come on John, he means business, we've got to get out'.

"My natural instinct was to have a go ... just as I was about to leave I looked up [at the gunman] and he says, 'You're all right, away you go'."

Mr Philipson ended up in the nearby Subway restaurant, and the gunman appeared outside.

"He was shouting obscenities to everyone and sundry ... he was standing there like Buck Rogers with his rifle."

The gunman was confronted by armed police and pointed his rifle at the officers.

"They let the police dog go. It went for him. It got a hold of him. As it was running to him he tried to shoot it, but he wasn't a very good shot so he missed the dog and the police of course shot him and that was it.

"I saw him go down and ultimately I saw the police ... they did CPR on him and they were pushing his chest for quite some time until the paramedics arrived."

Theo Modlik said he also watched the drama unfold.

"I heard two gunshots about 5-10 seconds apart at around 12.30pm. Police began to arrive and about half an hour later I watched them ... let the dog rush at him and then he raised his rifle and then they shot him.

"During the standoff I heard him yell 'they're harassing me' and 'hurry up and ******* shoot me. Kill me you *****. Hurry and ******* shoot me, I want to die'."

Multiple investigations into the shooting are under way by the police, coroner and Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The incident shattered the peace yesterday on Upper Hutt's main drag. Patrol cars screeched into the area and police, some armed, got out and began to shout instructions.

Vasely Sapunov was in his car and about to leave Main St when the incident unfolded in front of him.

He saw people sprint past, pushing shopping trolleys, followed closely by police and thought he was witnessing "some kind of low-level theft".

He decided to live stream the action on the social media video site Periscope. At first it was "a bit of a laugh" but what he heard next was "terrifying".

"Heaps and heaps of cops started storming the street. Officers were screaming for people to get in the buildings - the street started to empty out. There wasn't anyone anywhere. Then I heard gunshots. I started freaking out when the shots were fired."

Central Upper Hutt went into lockdown, with schools and public transport shutting down.

Joanne Hyde was near McDonald's and one of the first people to see the gunman. She said he was waving his rifle at people on the road and then went through the drive-through and fired two shots. "People were running left, right and centre."

Kebab shop owner Ugur Kokcu said he saw the gunman talking to a woman for a couple of minutes and that he was "animated at times".

The woman works for Tony Loveday, at the Skynet City Stop opposite McDonald's.

Mr Loveday said she volunteered for prison services doing rehab work, and tried to calm the gunman. "He had a rifle in his hand. He kept going forward and back," he said.

"She was trying to talk him down. She said she had a good liaison with him. He was going to put the rifle down. She was only a metre away when he was shot dead.

"She was pretty adamant he was going to give himself up. She didn't know him. She said he told her he was trying to get into the army and was rejected because of his police record."

After the shooting, the nearby Subway store was used by police to interview witnesses.

Others were taken to a side room at the Upper Hutt Cosmopolitan Club.

Crowds of onlookers gathered at the police cordon throughout the afternoon. Some wanted to find out what happened, others wondered if they could get to work, and some, like Cherish Edwards and Troydog Petone, were waiting to get their cars back.

Their silver Subaru was sitting inside the cordon with two bullet holes in it - one in the windscreen and one in the passenger window.

They weren't sure who fired the shots.

Dozens of police officers stood on point at the cordons, while others with rifles strapped to their backs directed traffic.

At 4pm, Superintendent Sam Hoyle outlined what had happened at McDonald's but offered little more than the basics.

"On arrival police staff were fired upon. They have spoken with the man involved and attempted to negotiate a peaceful resolution. After some minutes he has been shot by police," he said.

"He has then been offered medical support by both police officers and Wellington Free Ambulance staff. Unfortunately he has died at the scene in what is a tragedy for everyone involved."

Mr Hoyle said the man's next of kin were being informed. They and the officers involved were offered support.

O'Connor urges restraint on passing judgment

Police Association president Greg O'Connor has urged people to wait for the full facts of the case before passing judgment on the officer who fired the fatal shot.

"This is not 'the police', it's an individual. New Zealand needs to accept that for anyone that goes around shooting in the street, there's a chance this will happen," he told the Herald.

"We ask that those who wish to comment on the officer's actions should await the outcome of the properly conducted and intense inquiries that will follow the incident."

Yesterday's shooting was the fifth time in a month frontline response police officers have had to deal with "armed and clearly dangerous offenders".

"In each of these incidents, the officers involved have been required to take immediate action in situations governed by the actions of armed offenders."

Mr O'Connor said police bosses and the Government had given constant reassurances armed incidents were not the result of changes in the criminal world. It showed top brass were "out of touch".

"There have been obvious changes. One of the big changes is the number of firearms there are. In the past criminals generally didn't have access to firearms. Now they do."

Mr O'Connor said the situation was scary, because if people were not hesitating to shoot at police, what would they do to civilians?

"This is a symptom of what's happening out there. It shows that [gun violence] won't only be against police."

Mr O'Connor had not spoken to the police officers involved in the shooting, but said the association was supporting them and would provide legal advice and representation.

How it happened
• 12.30: Police receive reports of a man firing a rifle at McDonald's in Upper Hutt.
• Armed police storm Main St and force members of the public into buildings and businesses.
• Officers are fired upon by a man in his 20's.
• They speak with the man and try to get him to surrender.
• About 30 minutes later he is shot dead.

- NZ Herald



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