A major incident is ongoing in the North Island of New Zealand after shots were fired at police. Residents are advised to remain indoors and police will be holding a press conference at 10.30am NZ time in Palmerston North.
Police say Kohu, one of a group of five men on the run, should not be approached. Kohu has a “significant firearms history”. You can view his profile at the Sensible Sentencing Trust here – Link
The NZ Herald has reported an armed “group” (i.e. armed gang) of fugitives is being hunted in a major police operation in the central North Island. Schools in the region have been placed in lock down. The Herald has has published this timeline of events:
•2.30am: Two officers start chasing a car near Whanganui. Three men and two women inside.
•3.30am: The car rams the police car near Ohakune. Two shots fired at police, group drives off in the police car.
•7.51am: Police release statement warning of a major incident unfolding in Central North Island and warn people to stay indoors.
•8.30am: Parents asked to keep children at home today. Ruapehu College, Ohakune College, Ohakune Primary and Ohakune kindergarten, Raetihi Primary, Waiouru Primary, and National Park School are closed. In some cases, where students have already arrived, the schools have gone into lockdown.
•8.37am: Police say they will hold a press conference in Palmerston North at 10.30am.
•Prime Suspect: Dolphy Kohu, who in 2013 was jailed for firing a shotgun at a Whaganui family the year before. He was caught after six weeks on the run.
Listen to Nuku Wallace, principal of Raetihi Primary School on Radionz Morning Report. Wallace said the school has prepared for, and is trained to deal with, this type of situation.
Kohu’s grandfather told radioNZ Morning Report
The only thing I can really add to it is for my mokopuna, for my grandson, to give himself up, come forward and give himself up.
“The situation now, as much as I hate to think it, they’re going to shoot him, they’re going to shoot him, his very actions have put him in that situation where they [police] have no choice.”
Asked what he would say if he could speak directly to his grandson, Mr Kohu said: “Boy I love you, just give yourself up, that’s all.”
Discharging a shotgun at the lower end of the scale of offences
In March 2012 Dolphy Tetawhero Kohu fired a shotgun twice at people standing outside a house on Hylton Street, Aramoho. One of his victims was left with shotgun pellets embedded in his skin, two other people were hit by pellets. Kohu was on parole for aggravated robbery when the shootings took place. (something that the Parole Board later referred to as an offence “at the lower end of the scale” – see below).
He’d been released on parole from a three year sentence for the aggravated robbery of a W(h)anganui dairy. The judge sentenced him to a further two and a half years in prison (source) and he was again released on parole on 3 June 201, with a 10pm to 6am imposed.
Kohu’s parole was supposed to last until his sentence-end date of 2 August 2015, but an arrest warrant was issued for him in July after the Department of Corrections applied to the Parole Board to have him recalled to prison. He had previously been recalled to prison in March for committing a willful damage offence in February 2015 (smashed the windows of a car with a vodka bottle) and for failing to report to his probation officer.
Before his latest release in June of 2015, a parole board hearing document dated 21 May 2015 stated…
“When we look at the time left on his sentence and the special considerations proposed, the support that he has in the community, we consider that Mr Kohu does qualify for parole given that in the next 10 weeks he is unlikely to commit any serious offending. The offences for which he came to prison for were at the lower end of the scale…
…We are satisfied that no further breaches are likely given that he has a completely different focus now he has to provide support to his partner who is pregnant and having health issues” source
It beggars belief that anyone with a history of multiple parole violations, and aggravated robbery and weapons convictions, could ever be assessed as having offended at the lower end of the scale. How could anyone say he was unlikely to commit any further serious offending?
Just weeks ago armed police shot dead a man suspected of three hold-ups. David Cerven was corned by police in Auckland’s Meyer Park after he gave himself up.
Police later confirmed Cerven was not armed and that the incident had been caught on CCTV, they are still calling for witnesses to the Meyer Park shooting to come forward. Witnesses have already said they heard at least 5 gunshots. There will be three inquiries into his death, and all of them will exonerate the police.
Cerven was in New Zealand on a working holiday visa and desperate to pay off a €30,000 loan he’d taken out to come to the country. He’d been working as a labourer.
The NZ Herald said David Cerven’s death was the 12th fatal police shooting in the last 15 years, in addition to these (source)
May 3, 2015: Vaughan William John Te Moananui, 33, shot after he refused to surrender to police, and pulled out a gun in Thames. He was taken to hospital but died shortly afterwards.
July 7, 2013: Caleb Henry, 20, shot on Auckland’s Northern Motorway after committing home invasion in Opotiki. Officers chased him from Cambridge and eventually stopped him with road spikes. He was pointing his gun at officers when a member of the Armed Offenders Squad shot him.
June 8, 2013: Adam Te Rata Charles Morehu, 33, shot and killed after shots fired at police at New Plymouth Golf Club. The IPCA later said poor communication and a lack of command and control contributed to the events that unfolded.
July 15, 2011: Anthony Ratahi, 46, shot and killed as he struggled with police dog after a siege in Opunake, 65km south of New Plymouth. He had been holding ex-partner Marcelle Beer hostage at the Headlands Hotel for 12 hours.
March 28, 2011: Lachan Kelly-Tumarae, 19, shot four times by an officer after a police chase in Omahu, near Hastings. Kelly-Tumarae was killed after he stopped his car and pointed a gun at officers.
June 28, 2009: Shayne Sime, 42, shot dead by police after two-hour standoff in Christchurch which left officer and neighbour injured. Mr Sime’s death was ruled a suicide.
January 23, 2009: Halatau Naitoko, 17 – an innocent bystander – shot dead by police on Auckland’s Northwestern Motorway after getting caught in crossfire as police shot at aggravated robber Stephen Hohepa McDonald, 50.
October 23, 2008: Lee Jane Mettam, 37, fatally shot by member of Armed Offenders Squad after she threatened to kill staff of a Vodafone store in Whangarei.
September 26, 2007: Stephen Bellingham, 37, shot dead by policeman in Christchurch after smashing cars and car windows with a claw hammer. Said to have been on a party-pill binge.
August 14, 2004: Haidar Ebbadi Mahdi 37, died from bullet to head as he stabbed wife being held in headlock in South Auckland house.
April 30, 2000: Steven Wallace, 23, of Waitara, shot after window-smashing spree in the town.
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