March 15 heroes - our New Zealanders of the year

Jim Manning and Scott Carmody. Photo: Supplied
Jim Manning and Scott Carmody. Photo: Supplied
When it comes to naming New Zealand’s most respected people for 2019, Jim Manning and Scott Carmody must surely be at the top of the list.

It was finally revealed this week the two senior constables were the police officers who put their lives on the line and stopped the alleged March 15 terrorist.

Their actions almost certainly stopped more carnage.

In Star Media’s view, these two must surely share the accolade of New Zealander of the Year when it is announced next year.

The semi-finalists will be announced soon.

Senior Constables Manning and Carmody can not talk publicly about their actions until the court case against the Australian accused of the two mosque attacks is over. The trial is scheduled for June next year.

But this is how it unfolded.

The pair were on armed training with other police, including specialist officers from Australia, in the former The Princess Margaret Hospital building in Cashmere.

The hospital, full of rooms and rabbit warrens on multiple floors, is a perfect training location for police.

When the gunman attacked at the Al Noor Mosque in Deans Ave, every available police officer in Christchurch was scrambled, including those training at the hospital.

The situation was chaotic. Police thought the gunman and accomplices could still be in the central city and resources were poured in there.

They were unaware the gunman was already closing in on his second target, the Islamic Centre on Linwood Ave.

Instinct and experience told Senior Constables Manning and Carmody the gunman would be on the move so they opted to stay wide of the central city.

Between them they had more than 50 years experience in the police, serving in both rural communities and cities, and were no strangers to dealing with armed offenders. They were calm and cool.

Then reports came in of a second attack in Linwood.

They hit the accelerator, instinct telling them the gunman would probably use Brougham St, the main arterial south, as an escape route.

Within minutes they were proved correct. A vehicle with bullet holes drove through the intersection of Brougham St and Waltham Rd, close to where Senior Constables Manning and Carmody were waiting. Target identified.

They swung their vehicle around and roared south along Brougham St to catch up with the vehicle. They had already formed a plan should this situation eventuate.

Factored into the plan were: The offender would have automatic weapons and would probably use them having already killed dozens; there was a high chance he had explosives in the vehicle or strapped to himself; Brougham St was busy with traffic and there may also be pedestrians and cyclists.

Scott Carmody and Jim Manning arrested the alleged March 15 shooter. Photo: Supplied
Scott Carmody and Jim Manning arrested the alleged March 15 shooter. Photo: Supplied
Running his vehicle off the road to a standstill would happen. But where was vital to a swift outcome. They would have to decide in an instant whether to shoot him, but that brings risk with the amount of traffic about - bullets can ricochet.

Then it happens. Contact. Senior Constables Manning and Carmody smash into the suspect’s vehicle, forcing it to a stop. They are out in a second, firearms drawn.

They see explosives in the vehicle; they are yelling at the alleged gunman, all happening in a matter of seconds.

Senior Constables Manning and Carmody are making life and death decisions in a fraction of a second – their own lives, those of members of the public driving by and the alleged gunman’s.

They are on autopilot, their years of training kicking in, 100 per cent correct decisions need to be made as to whether they will pull their triggers.

The alleged gunman is sitting in his car; he is not going for his weapon. He doesn’t want to die. He is dragged from his vehicle, flipped over on the footpath and neutralised.

Senior Constables Manning and Carmody radio in what had happened and the prisoner was taken into the Christchurch central station.

 

 

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