Siege over, man in custody + video

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ARRESTED: Rhys Warren, 27, the man at the centre of the 24-hour armed siege near Kawerau is now at Whakatane Police station. Photo Louis Klaassen

ARRESTED: Rhys Warren, 27, the man at the centre of the 24-hour armed siege near Kawerau is now at Whakatane Police station. Photo Louis Klaassen

THE siege on Onepu Springs Road is over.

Police have confirmed the suspected gunman has been arrested without incident and is now in custody, after surrendering to police a short time ago.

As the man, Rhys Warren, left the scene in an unmarked police car, family members at the cordon called out “well done, Rhys”, “good boy, Rhys”, and “we love you Rhys”.

An aunty said Warren declared at 4.30am he was ready to give himself up but he wanted to wait until daylight.

Taupo area commander Inspector Warwick Morehu was at the scene overnight but had begun travelling back to Rotorua when he was summoned back to the property because Warren wanted him to be the police officer that arrested him.

Mr Morehu had arrested him once before, family said.

Before leaving Mr Morehu climbed from a car parked back from the cordon, approached family at the intersection, spoke to them briefly, hugged and kissed them and returned to the car.

The vehicle then drove through the cordon, with Mr Morehu and Warren, 27, inside.

In a police statement, Police commissioner Mike Bush said the police priority was always to resolve the situation without further risk to police staff or the public.

"This welcome development follows lengthy contact throughout the night with the individual by police negotiators and other police staff."

The man will be given a medical check and taken to Whakatane police station where he will be interviewed about the events of the last 24 hours.

"I would like to thank all police staff and those in other emergency services who have worked on this operation. I’d particularly like to thanks our colleagues in the New Zealand Defence Force who have provided support," Mr Bush said.

"I would also like to thank the public in the Bay of Plenty and beyond who have sent countless messages of support to the injured officers, and the wider police operation. It is heartening to see the good will we receive during such events, and we value this very much.

Armed police at a cordon on the intersection of Onepu Springs Road and State Highway 30 at 5pm this evening

Armed police at a cordon on the intersection of Onepu Springs Road and State Highway 30 at 5pm this evening

"I have this morning visited the two police officers who are in Waikato Hospital. I can say they are in good spirits, despite the traumatic events which they have experienced in the last 24 hours."

A major police investigation had begun, which would build a full picture of what led to yesterday’s shootings in which four police staff were injured, Mr Bush said. injured.

"I appreciate there are many questions which will be asked about this event. We will conduct a thorough and detailed investigation to establish exactly what happened, and act on any learnings which may arise."

"I can say however that the successful resolution of this incident is due to the work of dedicated, professional staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the last 24 hours to achieve a safe outcome.

"The safety of the individual in custody, his family, the public and police staff has been our absolute priority from the outset."

EARLIER today: The siege on Onepu Springs Road near Kawerau appears to be over

A Beacon reporter at the scene believes there has been a resolution and the suspected shooter has been arrested.

Reverend Wayne Te Kaawa, who has been at the site all night, is giving other family members the thumbs up and is doing a karakia.

"Family are calling others over, they are giving each other the thumbs up and people are smiling."

The man's mother is at the front of the group.

Whakatane Police Senior Sergeant Yvonne Parker just gone across the road to the cordon.

EARLIER today:

THE siege near Kawerau is entering its second day, with a man alleged to have shot four police officers still holed up in a house on Onepu Springs Road.

Police say the situation remains unchanged overnight with no further shots fired and "a major police operation" continuing today.

Taupo area commander Inspector Warwick Morehu has just arrived at the scene and it is believed that he is about to adopt a liaison role with the suspected shooter. The priority for police remains to resolve the situation peacefully, and ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Cordons remain in place today and a large number of police staff, including specialist units, have worked throughout the night.

Police are working with the suspected gunman's family, who are at the cordon and have been in cellphone contact with him by text, urging him to surrender.

A Beacon reporter at the scene said there were now about 20 family members gathered at the northern cordon on the corner of State Highway 30 and Onepu Springs Road, including the man's mother. The family want to be there when the man comes out, so he is able to see his family.

"They are tired, and a lot of them have been here all night. A few are wrapped in blankets - they are ready for this to be over; for it to be resolved.

A helicopter is still in the air, an ambulance left the scene 10 minutes ago and there is a truck on site supplying family members with food and hot drinks.

Two of the four officers shot yesterday were discharged from Whakatane Hospital yesterday while the other two are being treated in Waikato Hospital.

One is in a serious but stable condition and the fourth will undergo treatment today for a gunshot to the hand.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush flew back from Australia after learning of the incident and Police minister Judith Collins will visit the scene today.

EARLIER yesterday:

THE number of police officers injured in a shooting incident near Kawerau has risen to four.

Police revealed this evening two of them were in Whakatane Hospital in a stable condition and one was in Rotorua Hospital in a stable but serious condition. The fourth officer was shot in the hand in the course trying to apprehend a person who allegedly earlier in the day fired at a police spotter plane on a cannabis operation in the sky above the Onepu area.

Acting commissioner Mike Clement held a press conference in Wellington at 6pm and revealed 15 police officers, many from the Armed Offender Squad, were at the scene and the offender was inside a property police had cordoned off.

More staff were arriving at the scene. Asked how police were attempting to arrest the man Mr Clement said he could not comment on tactical matters.

"He might be watching us on his own television."

The police emphasis at this time was containing the situation, he said.

The best information he had was that police were dealing with a sole assailant.

He said all the shot officers were male.

Police were supporting them and their families as best they could.

Police involved in the cannabis operation heard three shots at 10.45am today and another at 11.30am. the shots were believed to have been fired at the aircraft.

An armed offenders squad from Rotorua was sent to the scene soon after 1pm.

At about 3.45pm, it was confirmed that three police officers had been shot and injured at the address and they were taken to Rotorua and Whakatane hospitals.

EARLIER today:

TWO police officers have reportedly been shot during an armed incident near Kawerau.

The report came through a New Zealand Police tweet, just after 4pm.

No more information is available at this time but cordons are in place at both ends of Onepu Spring Road and police are searching cars as they leave the area.

A driver told the Beacon the police were searching for a gun, and taking note of people’s names and addresses.

Another man reported hearing a shot near Hahuru Marae and went to the end of the road to investigate, then was not allowed back in.

The armed offenders squad is at the scene and people are advised to avoid the area.

One Response to “Siege over, man in custody + video”

  1. Diane Evelyn Arbuckle

    Unfortunately, these officers, bless their hearts, acted illegally: Due to imminent domain, they could not enter Warren’s house without invitation; and Warren was entitled to use any force necessary to defend himself and property from anyone entering or present on his property. The officers COULD have produced a signed search warrant and waited on Warren to read & acknowledge same if they wanted to safely enter & search the premises for Warren. That would have been a safer option than asking to be shot dead, which Warren was entitled to do.

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