Gangs 'angered' over cop shooting

MARIKA HILL AND MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 05:00 09/06/2012
Scott Beard
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ

ON THE SCENE: Detective Inspector Scott Beard at Edenvale Park, Mt Eden, where the suspects were thought to have absconded after abandoning their car.

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Auckland's criminal community is likely to be angered by the attempted shooting of a police officer by a known gang member, a leading criminologist said.

The constable is "lucky to be alive" after the passenger of a car he pulled over in Mayoral Drive shot at him on Thursday night with a pistol, when the officer attempted to remove the vehicle's keys following a routine vehicle stop.

Police are unsure how many shots were fired, but they narrowly missed the unnamed officer. He was left with gunfire burns to his forearm and treated by ambulance officers at the scene while the shooter and a woman fled in the car, later found dumped on View Rd in Mt Eden.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said: "At this stage we believe it is just one or maybe two shots. In the heat of the moment people are a little bit unsure."

Police have said they are now hunting Murray Toleafoa, a patched member of the Tribesman gang, and the driver of the vehicle, Nadia Ball.

Beard said Taleafoa should not be approached.

"He has to be dangerous when he's armed, driving around the city and he points a pistol at a police officer and then fires."

The Armed Offender Squad launched a raid on a Glen Innes house late yesterday.

Canterbury University Sociology Professor, Greg Newbold, said the decision to shoot at the officer looked like a "spontaneous act of madness,'' he said.

Newbold said fellow gang members and its leadership would be "spewing".

"It brings untold heat on them," he said.

"The young ones might be impressed - the ones who watch the movies but the older guys will think 'What a bloody nut.' The consequences of doing something like that, you get no prestige at all for doing stupid things like that in the criminal world."

"It's the kind of crazy thing that young people do sometimes. It's a situation which can have fatal consequences and it's a nightmare for police because its unpredictable it's senseless it doesn't have any logic to it."

Police leadership condemned the shooting with the Police Association saying it was a reminder of the issues officers faced and renewed their calls for all officers to be armed.

"So easily we could've been talking about another police officer shot but just by good luck that's not the case," Police Association president Greg O'Connor said.

"It's a reminder to every police officer that these things, like most of our shooting incidents, they come out of nothing. They come out of very innocuous pieces of policing and there's nothing more innocuous than a car stop."

All police would eventually end up with firearms on their hips "but it will take a tragedy for that to happen", he said.
The weapon used in the shooting has not been found, but a gun holster was located in the car.

The officer was left shocked at the incident and was being supported by colleagues.

Beard said more than 20 investigators were hunting for Toleafoa.

"We do not want this search to end tragically for anyone. The best thing Mr Toleafoa can do is give himself up to Police. If any of his associates knows where he is, they should call Police," Beard said.

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The constable did not have a taser but took usual safety measures when approaching the car.

- Auckland Now

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