By RNZ News
Auckland police will remain armed until they are “satisfied the right people are in custody” following the fatal shooting of an unarmed officer earlier today, says Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.
The male police officer died in a shooting after a routine traffic stop in the West Auckland suburb of Massey this morning. A second officer who was also shot is in a stable condition in hospital.
In a news conference held late this afternoon, Commissioner Coster said police were speaking to “two people of interest” after the fatal shooting.
He said a firearm had been recovered.
The two unarmed officers were shot during the incident that happened at around 10.30am on Reynella Drive in Massey.
New Zealand police are usually unarmed. Coster said during his briefing that the police officers were not carrying arms when they made their routine traffic stop.
Until today, it has been more than 10 years since a police officer was killed in New Zealand in the line of duty.
Since 1890, 22 officers have been shot dead in the line of duty, with a further 10 having been killed in other types of attacks.
Commissioner Coster said multiple shots from a long barrelled firearm were fired at the officers after they approached a vehicle that had crashed after they had tried to pull it over.
He said a “large number of police from across Tāmaki Makaurau [Auckland]” as well as the Armed Offenders Squad were involved in the hunt for the perpetrators.
“Our priority is to hold this offender to account,” Coster said.
The incident saw several schools and pre-schools in Massey locked down while police and other emergency services descended on the suburb.
Coster confirmed the police officer’s death at an earlier media briefing in Wellington this afternoon.
He described the death as shocking and said it was a terrible day.
A member of the public who was hit by a fleeing vehicle has minor injuries.
‘Worst news’ for police
“This is a shocking situation, this is the worst news police and their families can receive.
“The incident points to the real risk our officers face as they go about their jobs every day. Staff safety and welfare are our absolute priority and our whole organisation is in a state of shock as a result of this event.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the death of the police officer is devastating news.
“To lose a police officer is to lose someone working for all of us, but also a family member, someone’s loved one and friend. My condolences go to them and to their police whānau.”
Meanwhile in a joint media conference with the Police Association in Napier this afternoon, Police Minister Stuart Nash said the news of the fatal shooting was absolutely gutting.
He said he was heartbroken for the family and colleagues of the officer who had died and described it as a tragic day for the police family.
“Over 10,000 men and woman have lost a valued colleague,” he said.
This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.