30 Aug 2016

Police 'took' off 45 minutes before KFC brawl - witness

8:43 pm on 30 August 2016

Police were called to a south Auckland KFC about 45 minutes before a mass brawl broke out yesterday - only to show up and then leave, according to a witness.

KFC on Massey Rd in Mangere East

About 100 people were involved in the early evening brawl, police were told. Photo: RNZ / Joanna MacKenzie

The fighting erupted outside a KFC restaurant on Massey Road about 5pm yesterday, involving 80 to 100 students, and some adults.

Some of the brawlers were armed with knives and pieces of wood, but it was not known if anyone was injured

Mangere East Community Centre director Roger Fowler said he and his staff could tell something was off when they saw a large group of students gathering in the park.

"Out staff alerted the police and after a little while a police car did turn up and had a look, and took off again. Which we were a little bit astounded by, because we definitely feel that this incident could have been easily nipped in the bud."

Mr Fowler said it appeared only a handful took part in the brawl, so it was overkill when 13 police cars did eventually turn up.

Police, however, have denied they could have stopped the brawl sooner.

Counties Manukau Area Commander Inspector Jason Hewett

Counties Manukau Area Commander Inspector Jason Hewett Photo: RNZ / Carla Penman

Counties Manukau Area Commander Inspector Jason Hewett acknowledged concerns were raised about the large group.

"So a unit was dispatched, there was no fighting at that point, a number of people were spoken to, and there was nothing more that could be done at that time."

Mr Hewett said it seemed a fight between two people had escalated.

More charges possible

Police arrested four teenagers at the scene, including two 17-year-olds who have both been charged with disorderly behaviour, with one of the teens also facing charges of possession of a knife and possession of an offensive weapon.

Two 15-year-old boys, who were also arrested at the scene, were referred to Youth Aid.

Mr Hewett said police could not rule out the possibility of further charges

"This was appalling behaviour, especially given the presence of young children and elderly nearby. They were just trying to go about their business and this was a frightening experience for them.

"We want to assure members of the Mangere community that we will be increasing patrols in the area, including around local schools," he said.

Southern Cross Campus principal Robin Staples said they were still trying to piece together what happened.

He said there were up to six schools in the area whose students could have been involved, as well as others commuting or at the library nearby.

"We will talk to police further, we will investigate... It will be about individual students being held accountable for their actions and, if any of them have brought the school into disrepute, then they will be answering to the Board of Trustees."

Mr Staples said he was not sure how many of his students took part, but believed the numbers overall to be exaggerated.

Police spent the morning visiting high schools in the area, and were reviewing footage of the brawl.