Farmer Dan White knew a gunman was on the loose when he went
to move a mob of sheep.
The father of three admits he was ''looking over my
shoulder'' all day.
As he drove across a paddock, he saw a man 20m away.
Immediately, he knew it was the gunman being hunted by police
for shooting dead two Work and Income workers in nearby
Ashburton and seriously injuring another.
''He was out in the open, out in the middle of the paddock,''
a shaken Mr White (33) said.
The fugitive, Russell John Tully, simply looked like a man
''who had been hunting'', Mr White said.
''I knew who he was straight away. I carried on driving in my
ute, away from him, called the police, told them where he
Armed officers and police dog teams swooped on the crop and
sheep farm near the Ashburton River mouth and upmarket
development of Lake Hood.
Tully put up ''minor resistance'' before dogs latched on to
him. The arrest followed a seven-hour manhunt on a day that
began like any other in Ashburton.
Office workers poured coins into the parking meters, farmers
ventured to town for stockfeed.
About 10am, the tranquillity of small-town business was shot
to pieces by gunfire.
Tully (48) chained his bike to a stop sign outside the Work
and Income office on the corner of Cass and Moore Sts, where
he had been previously served a trespass notice.
Wearing a black balaclava, the well-known loner and homeless
man, who had recently been in the local paper pleading for
help, walked in armed with a sawn-off shotgun.
Police say he opened fire, killing two workers instantly, and
critically injuring a third.
A man inside the office, who asked to be called David, was in
the middle of an interview when the gunman shot the staff
member sitting opposite him, less than a metre away.
The shooter then turned the weapon on another person.
''It was incredibly loud. I could feel the air whoosh past my
head,'' David said.
Calmly, the gunman walked outside, broke down his weapon into
his backpack, and unchained his bicycle.
He left his helmet on the footpath, riding east along Moore
St. David had followed the man outside, swearing at him.
Another witness said he saw a person run from the offices,
yelling after the shooter: ''You bastard, you've blown her to
Another bystander said a large, ''brave'' man was shouting at
him: ''I'll f...ng kill you, I'll f...ing kill you.''
The man grappled with the gunman, but managed only a thump to
the back of the shooter's head before he took off towards the
Ashburton River - four blocks away - where he is understood
to have been sleeping rough. Then, he disappeared.
Armed offenders squad and special tactics group officers
rushed from Christchurch, 90km away. Other police came from
Timaru. Every Ashburton officer was on the hunt.
Inside the Winz office, horrified staff tried to care for
their bloodied colleagues.
A large cordon surrounded the Winz centre; police were
It soon became apparent that the search was focused on the
A helicopter slowly scoured from above. A dark-clad sniper
hung out its doors, searching through his high-powered
Police dogs barked at the riverbed.
Bruce Henderson was on his morning run on the Ashburton River
As he and his running mate were heading east, a man wearing
camouflage clothing and a balaclava sped past them. The track
is well used by mountain bikers, but the man looked odd, out
''And he was in a real hurry.''
All of Lake Hood's 70 or so houses were evacuated after a
local woman reported a likely sighting.
A 5km cordon was looped around the locality; armed police
waved off cars.
Meanwhile, in Ashburton, police patrol cars zoomed up side
streets. Plain-clothed officers strapped Glock pistols to
their legs, and peered past street corners.
Canterbury commander Superintendent Gary Knowles fronted a
press office outside the local police station at 12.30pm. He
confirmed everyone's worst fears - two people had died.
Mr Knowles circulated a photo of the ''person of interest'' -
''We are warning the community not to approach him.''
Later, Ashburton Mayor Angus McKay was shown a photo of the
man and instantly recognised him.
He met him earlier this year and helped him get housing
through Presbyterian Support, which ''looked after him very
Two local newspapers had highlighted his plight of living in
''Everything has been done to help this individual,'' Mr
The hunt went on.
Mid-afternoon, armed police swooped on an abandoned Housing
New Zealand property in Willow St.
They yelled that they had the house surrounded, and for the
occupants to come out with their hands up.
Smoke bombs were thrown and the rear door rammed. Armed
police swarmed in.
''All clear,'' soon came the call. There was no sign of the
Fears were rising the shooter would not be found by
Another police press conference was held at 5pm: Supt Knowles
said the hunt would go through the night - 100 officers were
on the case, thermal-imaging gear would be used, no stone
would be left unturned.
But about the same time, the police dogs - thanks to the
tip-off from Dan White, the farmer - had the scent of their
The dogs tracked Tully down Terrace Rd when their handlers
They soon brought the man down.
No shots were fired and there was no stand-off. A gun was
nowhere to be seen.
Mr White watched Tully taken away in the paddy-wagon to
Ashburton police station, where he would be medically
examined before being formally interviewed and charged.
Supt Knowles said: ''Nothing will give the families who lost
loved ones closure but I think a community can go to sleep
tonight with the thought that the person we believe may be
responsible is in custody.''
Mr White was relieved, and happy for his wife and three
school-age kids to finally return home.
Police thanked him for his help in catching an alleged
''If I hadn't gone out to move my sheep, I wouldn't have seen
him, and he probably wouldn't even have been found.''
Additional reporting by APNZ and Ashburton