10 May 2009

Gunman found dead at Napier siege house

7:08 am on 10 May 2009

The gunman at the centre of the Napier siege has been found dead inside his Chaucer Road house.

Bomb disposal squads are working to defuse explosives found in the home and police say that may take two days.

Police say they found the body of Jan Molenaar, 51, in the master bedroom of the property about midday on Saturday. It took an hour to get to the bedroom as the team of five officers had to break down barricades.

They are unable to say how he died, however they say police did not fire more than two gunshots throughout the standoff.

Eastern district commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle says immediate neighbours may not be able to return to their homes for some time.

Napier's Civil Defence says the public should stay away from the area.

Armed police had been surrounding Mr Molenaar's property following the shooting of Senior Constable Len Snee, 53, and three other people during a routine drugs raid on Thursday morning. Two men remain in a critical condition in intensive care.

In a statement on Saturday afternoon, Mr Hoyle said the house was still considered dangerous and must be cleared by specialist staff.

In an attempt to get into the house, police carried out controlled explosions at 3.15am and just before 6am on Saturday.

Police Minister Judith Collins says the police have done an exceptional job in ending the siege and that she is relieved the siege came to an end without further loss of life or injury.

Officer's body recovered

A day earlier, police entered the Napier property and recovered Mr Snee's body from the driveway of the Chaucer Road house with the use of armoured personnel carriers.

About 20 shots were heard from on the hill over the course of three minutes around the time of the retrieval of the body, but no-one was injured.

Community Constable Bruce Miller, 40, dog handler Senior Constable Grant Diver, 50, and another man, who suffered gunshot wounds during the drugs raid on Thursday are in Hawke's Bay Hospital.

Mr Miller and the other man, Leonard Holmwood, 44, remain in a critical condition. Mr Diver is in a serious but stable condition.

The police drugs dog Fi, a five-year-old German Shepherd which was thought to have been injured or killed during the raid, has been rescued alive from a vehicle near the besieged house.

Police dog controller Sergeant Allan McRae says Fi is just a little dehydrated. She was trapped in the back of a police vehicle at Jan Molenaar's property for more than 36 hours before being discovered late on Friday.

Drug raid goes wrong

The three unarmed officers were taking part in what police describe as a "low risk" cannabis raid at the house just after 9am on Thursday. The shootings took place about 30 minutes later.

The gunman was a former territorial soldier who served between 1982 and 1988. Police say he had a high-powered rifle and a number of other weapons. He was also believed to have a lot of ammunition.

Negotiators from throughout New Zealand had been at the scene and more than 100 officers were working on the case.

Families' grief

The family of Senior Constable Snee say they are struggling to deal with his death and their thoughts are with the families of the injured victims.

A work colleague and family friend, Stan Tristram, says the family is grieving the loss of a wonderful husband, father and brother who loved his family and was dedicated to the police and everything he did.

Mr Tristram says Mr Snee was a private person, a keen sportsman and a man of few words. He says the family is grateful for the support it has received from police and members of the public throughout New Zealand.

The families of the injured officers Bruce Millar and Grant Diver on Friday expressed their gratitude to police who carried them to safety and to hospital staff.

Slain officer 'a hero'

Senior Constable Snee was with the police for 33 years and is the 29th New Zealand police officer to die in the line of duty. A trust fund is to be set up for his family.

Prime Minister John Key has expressed his sincere condolences to the family of Mr Snee, saying he was a long-serving officer who gave a lot to his local community and will be greatly missed.

Mr Key says the events in Napier are a stark reminder that the job of police officers is dangerous and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says says he grew up with Mr Snee in the central Hawke's Bay township of Takapau. He says he will be remembered as a hero who died doing service to his country.

A book of condolence for Mr Snee was opened on Saturday morning at Napier Cathedral, and would remain available for the public to record their tributes over the following week.