9 Sep 2015

Armed incidents 'becoming too common'

5:45 pm on 9 September 2015

The fatal police shooting of gunman in Upper Hutt was the fifth time in a month officers have had to deal with armed offenders, the police union says.

The scene

Police shot dead Pera Smiler in a McDonald's restaurant after he fired a high powered rifle. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Police shot Pera Smiler, 25, dead in Upper Hutt yesterday after he fired a high-powered rifle in a McDonald's restaurant and then on the street.

Watch: witnesses and police speak of the shooting in Upper Hutt

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said reassurances by police administration and the Government that violent crime is going down were clearly out of touch.

Mr O'Connor said yesterday's shooting follows high-level firearms emergencies in Palmerston North, Hamilton, Raetihi and Motueka, all in the last month.

"Lets have a look at why all of a sudden firearms are turning up ... why is it we're attending incidents where in the past there may have been at worst, a knife or a blunt instrument involved, now there's firearms involved."

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy supports yesterday's police action, saying the community is safer for it.

"The town was busy, the mall was busy and police have to make that decision, their response was outstanding and it will be difficult for them too.

"They will get the full community backing by keeping the public safe."

Police tried to get Mr Smiler, who opened fire, to surrender his weapon.

Superintendent Sam Hoyle said the situation was volatile before Mr Smiler was shot dead by officers.

"A shot was fired inside the restaurant and shots were fired at police officers as they arrived," he said.

Teenager Jacob Marama who said he knew of Mr Smiler, said that he is known to people as 'Skinny', and that he was high on cannabis at the time of the shooting.

"He was stoned and he had a gun on him and he was asking this lady at McDonalds, can I have a big Mac combo," he said.

Fatal police shootings this year by month (2015)

  • 2 May 2015 - Vaughan William John Te Moananui, 33, was shot at a property in Thames following a manhunt. The police said he had refused to surrender, and had pulled out a firearm. CPR was performed at the scene but he was pronounced dead at Thames Hospital shortly afterwards.
  • 2 August 2015 - David Cerven, 21, was shot dead in Myers Park, Auckland. The Slovakian national, who was in New Zealand on a working holiday visa, had been wanted in connection with armed robberies. The police said they were called to the park by Mr Cerven, who told them he was armed. Staff then called for armed officers to attend. Negotiations were initiated but were unsuccessful.
  • 8 September 2015: The police shot Pera Smiler, dead after he fired a high-powered rifle in a McDonald's restaurant in Upper Hutt's Main Street and on the road. Officers administered first aid but he died at the scene.
  • Source: IPCA / RNZ

    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said he had long held the view that New Zealand's gun control laws do not work as well as they should.

    "Look at the number of people being picked up with guns, the proof is there, and it's seriously worrying.

    "We've got to go back and re-examine our laws and ask why are they not working? Why are so many criminals able to access guns? And start with that."

    Numbers of police shootings causing injury or death (2013-2015)

    Source: IPCA