New Zealand police shooting: Man charged with murder after hunt
An armed officer at the shooting site
A man was charged with murdering a New Zealand police officer after a shootout during a routine traffic incident.
Another officer was wounded in the Auckland incident, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as "devastating".
A 24-year-old man was arrested on Friday after a manhunt and was later charged with crimes such as murder. He is expected in court on Saturday.
The police in New Zealand do not normally carry weapons and it is rare for officers on duty to be killed.
The last incident, according to the police, was in May 2009, when a senior police officer was shot while executing a routine search warrant in a Napier house.
What happened during the shooting?
At 10:28 am, the police in Massey, West Auckland, saw a "vehicle of interest" and tried to stop it.
"Lights and sirens were activated and the police tried to follow the vehicle," said Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. "But the officials quickly lost sight of it."
A short time later the vehicle was found "crashed into another vehicle". One member of the public was seriously injured - the police originally said the injuries were not serious.
When the officers approached the vehicle, a man got out, armed with a "cross-country weapon".
Police confirmed that a suspect had been arrested and charged
"The perpetrator then fired several shots at the two police officers at the scene," said Coster. "Both officers were shot and tragically one of our officers was killed."
Police later named the officer, who died as a 28-year-old constable Matthew Dennis Hunt. In a statement, his family said being a police officer was "his lifelong dream".
Police said the suspect got into another vehicle, a silver Mazda, after the shootout and fled the scene. The vehicle was later found abandoned.
A witness told the NZ Herald that he saw an injured officer jump over a fence.
"He fell to the floor and looked around a little, clutching his chest," said the man. "Then he jumped over the fence and ran up the street."
How did the search develop?
The armed police searched a house about four hours after the shootout and arrested two "interested people". A firearm was found.
A 24-year-old man was subsequently charged. However, the investigation continued and the police have not ruled out that other people could be charged with the incident, Coster said.
"This is a shocking situation. It is the worst news that police and family members of police officers can ever get in the course of our activities," he said.
What was the reaction?
"The incident points to the real risk that our officials face in their daily work," said Coster.
He confirmed that the officers were not armed at the time. "At the moment there is no evidence that this job would be anything out of the ordinary."
New Zealanders surrender 56,000 weapons during the amnesty
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed condolences to the family and the police officers of the official.
"Our police officers work hard every day to protect us and our communities," she said.
As of this month, the New Zealand police said a six-month trial against "armed response teams" would not continue.
"I would like to repeat that I am obliged to the New Zealand police to remain a generally unarmed police force," said Coster.
"How the public feels is important - we monitor with the public's consent, and that's a privilege."
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