Gunman injures four police officers in New Zealand

Gunman shoots and injures four policemen during marijuana operation in New Zealand

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Police block a road near Kawerau, New Zealand, after police officers were shot Wednesday, March 9, 2016.

A gunman suspected of shooting and wounding four police officers was holed up in a rural New Zealand house on Wednesday evening, police said.

Police surrounded the house after the man shot and hit officers during two separate incidents, said Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement. Police also enlisted the help of the military, which was providing three light-armored vehicles and a helicopter.

The events began unfolding during the morning, when police were using aircraft as part of a marijuana operation in the area, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) east of the North Island town of Rotorua, Clement said.

He said police heard three shots fired at about 10:30am. About an hour later, a fourth shot was fired, apparently in the direction of the police aircraft. Clement said no officers in the aircraft were injured.

As officers on the ground moved in to arrest the man, he shot three of them, Clement said. One suffered serious wounds, while the other two suffered injuries that weren't life-threatening, he said. All three were in stable condition at area hospitals.

In the other incident, the man shot a fourth officer in the hand, but his injuries weren't believed to be serious, Clement said. He was also taken to a local hospital.

"We are obviously providing close support to the officers who have been injured and their families, and our thoughts are with them at this time," Clement said.

Such violence against police is rare in New Zealand, where patrol officers typically don't carry firearms. The officers shot, however, were all members of a special unit whose members carry weapons and wear protective outfits.

TRTWorld, AP