Auckland shootings: mayor 'shocked' at gang-related attacks

Bullet holes in a window of a house in Phoenix Place, Papatoetoe. Photo: RNZ
Bullet holes in a window of a house in Phoenix Place, Papatoetoe. Photo: RNZ

A "shocking" spate of gang-related shootings in Auckland is putting innocent people at risk, mayor Phil Goff says.

Police responded to at least five shootings in Auckland within three hours last night, in the suburbs of Ōtara, Papatoetoe, Flat Bush, Papakura and Te Atatū last night.

There was damage done to several houses but no-one was injured.

A further two shootings in Henderson and Mt Albert are yet to be confirmed by police.

The New  Zealand Herald has reported that officers were called to a property on Rathgar Rd, Henderson, after reports of gunshots in the area about 11.20pm. A police car was seen on the street blocking a long driveway that led to a number of homes. It is not known whether anyone was injured.

They were also sent out to an incident on Segar Ave in Mt Albert and could be seen inside a block of units on the street.

Police said work was ongoing "to determine exactly what has taken place and any potential links between the incidents".

"No one has been injured, however, there was damage done to several houses," acting inspector Terry Lee said.

"Police will not tolerate activity which disrupts our communities and puts people at extreme risk.

"We want to reassure the community we take firearms crime very seriously and will continue to work to hold offenders to account."

The shootings in Ōtara, Papatoetoe, Flat Bush, Papakura happened between about 6.40pm and 7.40pm, police said, and the incident in Te Atatū was reported around 9.20pm.

Manukau Ward councillor Alf Filipaina said he would not be surprised if it was a result of tensions between the Killer Beez and Tribesmen which had been continuing since Killer Beez president Josh Masters was shot and left paralysed several years ago.

Some years ago ago church ministers brokered a ceasefire between the gangs following shootings in Ōtara, he said.

"Obviously that's no longer in place. Just concerned for the community, especially our young ones, being either shot or killed."

He said he had he has never seen so many shootings in one night. "This is what's so shocking about these incidents, is the frequency and the fact that they're prepared to use, in all these incidents, firearms."

He called for families of those willing to use firearms to help police get guns "out of the houses and out of the arms of those who are prepared to use them".

Police are investigating shootings in up to seven suburbs that began last night. Photo: RNZ
Police are investigating shootings in up to seven suburbs that began last night. Photo: RNZ

Mayor Phil Goff told RNZ's Morning Report programme gangs were putting innocent people at risk and it was a miracle that no young children or bystanders had been killed.

"This is appalling behaviour by gang members who are self indulgent, think that in this and in everything else they do they are above the law."

Goff said the number of attacks last night were unprecedented and it needs to come to a stop.

He said police had done some good work already but needed to keep applying pressure to the gangs.

Police had seized well over 1000 firearms and billions of dollars in assets.

"They've been very effective in a whole lot of ways. We need to keep that pressure on, we need to do more".

In addition, there had to be tighter controls on firearms.

"The fact of the matter is, as a legitimate firearms owner I can get as many firearms as I like there's no record where I buy them from and there's no record of whom I sell them to.

"We've got to crack down on the ease at which you can legitimately get firearms."

National Party leader Christopher Luxon said the Government needs to stop being soft on crime and be doing more following the shootings.

"It's been happening too often hasn't it, every day there's something like this going on with gangs."

If he were making the calls to toughen up on a crime, he told the AM Show this morning that he would start by reallocating the $210 million for a firearm registrar into a firearms prohibition that would give police search warrant powers to go after illegal guns.

He also wants to see a dedicated permanent police gang unit set up, police to have easier access to guns and said police needed to review the pursuit policy.

University of Canterbury senior lecturer and author of Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand, Jarrod Gilbert, said the the short term solution was for police to identify the groups involved, blanket police them on minor offences and reinvestigate old matters.

"You crack down on them so they begin to self-police themselves, say 'hey this pressure's too much, we've got to stop this type behaviour'."

In the longer term, the answer was to provide younger people alternatives to gangs.

Gang members were drawn from specific communities and if their very specific concerns are not addressed gangs will endure, he said.

- RNZ and NZ Herald 



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