Shots fired during police chase

An armed man fired shots and attempted to carjack three cars before being arrested in Tauranga last night.

The incident began around 8.45pm when police received a complaint about driving on State Highway 2 near Katikati.

A short time later the vehicle was located in Whakamarama; however, as police approached the vehicle it sped off towards Tauranga.

A pursuit was then initiated and spikes were used in an attempt to stop the vehicle, police said.

The driver lost lost control of the car at a roundabout in Baypark and a man in the car fired shots towards three police officers as they exited their vehicles.

The man then headed on foot into Truman Lane as members of the public started to exit Baypark Arena.

Although witness information was still being collated, police said they were aware of three attempts to take vehicles from members of the public at gunpoint.

A staff member at a nearby commercial building was also confronted by the man and had their vehicle taken.

Police said at that point an attempt was made to challenge the man; however, the vehicle failed to stop.

The car then hit road spikes and the officer deploying them narrowly avoided being struck by the vehicle.

Police then lost sight of the vehicle and initiated area searches.

About 40 minutes later the vehicle was spotted again near the Maungatapu Bridge and another pursuit was initiated.

The vehicle was followed on to Marine Parade before the man again pointed a gun out the driver's window before it fell to the ground.

A short time later the vehicle came to a stop and a 32-year-old man from Auckland was arrested by armed officers.

A firearm was recovered in Marine Parade and both spent and live ammunition was recovered from the Baypark area.

Western Bay of Plenty area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton described the ordeal as "an extremely fast-moving and serious situation".

"The priority for police staff was to try to contain the situation as quickly as possible and maximise the safety of the community. We are extremely pleased that no-one was injured.

"Although we have identified a number of members of the public who were confronted in the Baypark area, we want to hear from anyone else who was caught up in the incident and has not yet spoken to police so that we can ensure they receive any welfare support that they might require."

The arrested man will appear in Tauranga District Court later today facing a charge of using a firearm against a law enforcement officer.

Other charges are expected to follow.

Police appealed for anyone directly affected by the incident or who had any information that may assist the investigation to contact Tauranga Police on (07) 577 4300.

- Brendan Manning of APNZ

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