Man forced into terror ride

Armed police lock down an area of Takanini yesterday after the carjacking at gunpoint.
Armed police lock down an area of Takanini yesterday after the carjacking at gunpoint.
A terrified young man was forced to drive for more than 1km at gunpoint when a man fleeing police hijacked his car at traffic lights.

The 23-year-old man was last night being counselled by police and victim support workers after being left "traumatised" by his ordeal, which began with a high-speed pursuit down the Southern Motorway.

It ended several hours later in Takanini, where the gunman barricaded himself in a home with nine others - including two babies.

Terrified neighbours took cover with frightened children in nearby homes as armed police descended on the neighbourhood.

Roads were cordoned off, shops put on lockdown and trains stopped during the hours-long incident that began when the offender refused to stop for police.

He was travelling north on State Highway 1 when police tried to pull him over near Papakura, a police spokeswoman said.

A brief pursuit was called off at 12.39pm when the man's speeds exceeded 170km/h.

"Police were able to keep him in sight because traffic was quite heavy," she said. "As he's come off the Takanini/Manurewa off-ramp he had to stop in the traffic.

"He got out of the car, pointed his gun at a police car approaching behind him and walked a few metres to the top of the row of traffic."

The spokeswoman said he entered the first car, forcing the young driver at gunpoint to travel more than 1km down Great South Rd and on to Manuroa Rd.

He got out of the car and ran into a family member's house that was occupied at the time by nine people.

The victim drove to a row of shops about 100m away and called police.

Incident controller Senior Sergeant Kai Shao of Counties Manukau police said the victim was "quite traumatised by the event".

Neighbours described how more than 30 patrol cars arrived at the scene while armed police surrounded the house and communicated with its occupants by loudspeaker.

One family with four young children live directly in front of the house and said they were crouching in their kitchen as armed offenders squad members patrolled their property.

"It was pretty scary, one of our girls was crying," said the neighbour, who was too frightened to be named. "It left us on edge when we saw the armed offenders [squad] and police walking around our garden.

"There were about 15 all up, including snipers over the fence."

Another neighbour, Graeme Smith, said he could hear the police communicating with the man on a loudspeaker.

"They were saying, 'The people living at [address] come out to your front door and you will not be harmed.'

"They tried that about 10 times before the people came out, including two babies."

The wanted man tried to flee the scene, but was caught by police on nearby Maru Rd in Conifer Grove.

A gun and a "large amount of ammunition" were found on train tracks between the house and where the man was arrested.

A man faces firearm, driving and kidnapping charges. He was due to appear in court today.

- Morgan Tait of New Zealand Herald

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