Tributes flow for gunman Pera Smiler

7:22 pm on 9 September 2015

Friends of Pera Smiler are paying social media tributes to the 25-year-old, who was shot dead by police in a busy Upper Hutt street yesterday.

Pera Smiler

A photo posted by Pera Smiler on Facebook on 17 January. Photo: Facebook

Mr Smiler was killed after he fired shots from a high-powered rifle in a McDonald's and on Main Street.

Triends and family have taken to social media to express their sorrow.

One described him as having a tortured soul, while another said he would always remember him as a good guy who would not be defined by yesterday's actions.

"The police killed my cuzn, it's upsetting they can't use non lethal force in these situations, if his intentions were to kill, he would have easily killed people, but he didn't, he was just in a bad place, it's tough reading our messages he wanted to support my clothing label and record a few songs in my studio this year, dammmmn r.i.p my cuz, see you in the next life," cousin Dylan Smiler posted on Facebook.

"You have a heart of Gold Pera Smiler. No-one know behind those beautiful eyes there was a tortured sole Rest Easy..." Dahlia Smiler posted.

"Much aroha to your whanau bratha , R.I.P my bro." - Levi Oconnor

"fly high nd hav a cuppa with my old lady when u get there cuz" - Joshua Oxenham

Superintendent Sam Hoyle

Superintendent Sam Hoyle Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Superintendent Sam Hoyle said a post-mortem on Mr Smiler would be carried out tomorrow.

He said police were first called to the incident at 12.39pm on Tuesday and officers were on the scene at 12.42pm.

"We are still sifting through hundreds of pieces of information and dozens of witnesses who, as you can appreciate, can have different accounts of the same event.

"I have reviewed the CCTV footage of the event this afternoon and remain confident that my officers acted appropriately to keep the community safe."

The Ministry of Justice said Mr Smiler was due in court tomorrow but would not comment on what charges he faced.

'Happy boy'

Upper Hutt woman Sharon Leaf said she had known Mr Smiler through her son for more than nine years.

"He was always a happy boy. He was always smiling, he was a joker, you know - [it was] totally out of character," she said.

"My son had numerous friends at high school when we moved down here and he was one of them. They all called me 'Mum' - [I was] part of their family, as far as they were concerned, and they were my boys."

Ms Leaf said Mr Smiler obviously had issues but she did not know about them.

"I wish I had... It's like one of my own has gone and although how he did it was possibly traumatic for a lot of other people, it's very traumatic for us to have to go through this - it's like it's my own child, I'm just absolutely gutted.

"Whether people like it or not whatever he's done, I'll love him until the day I die."

Witnesses in the McDonald's during the incident have told how the gunman spoke to them and how they fled the building with their children.

The scene in central Upper Hutt.

The scene in central Upper Hutt. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Cordons in place in Upper Hutt

Cordons remain in place today in central Upper Hutt and local people have been unable to get to their cars and businesses.

The union representing workers at McDonald's said staff were shaken.

They were being offered counselling and McDonald's managing director had flown from Auckland to offer support.

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