Linton solider dies after armed incident

Last updated 15:20 05/10/2012

A soldier has been found dead after a five-hour standoff at a Palmerston North army base home.

A police dog handler near where an armed standoff is underway.
MURRAY WILSON/Manawatu Standard Zoom
Armed police gather after the standoff.

SlideshowInglis Way, Linton

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In a dark day for Linton Military Camp yesterday the funeral for one soldier was held just hours after another was found dead in his home following a tense armed standoff with police.

Private Michael Ross, who drowned after falling overboard during a military training exercise on Lake Moawhanga, near Waiouru, was farewelled by family, friends and his army colleagues in Auckland about 7pm.

His funeral was held at the end of a dramatic day at the military camp where he was based, with armed police called to an Inglis Way house about 9.30am after shots were fired.

A 23-year-old Linton soldier had barricaded himself inside the house, located in the camp's residential area, with a gun and refused to come out.

Army personnel, along with the Armed Offenders Squad and about 20 police officers, tried to negotiate with the man before entering the house just after 2pm.

He was found dead inside. His name has not yet been released and the incident has been referred to the coroner. The army has also launched an investigation into the incident.

A number of gunshot-like sounds were heard during the standoff, which were later identified by Inspector David White as tear-gas canisters being thrown into the house.

No shots were fired by police, nor were any shots fired while police were in attendance, Mr White said. Police would not comment on how the man died.

A neighbour of the man said he had two children and had recently split from his partner. She said the couple had had relationship problems.

''My partner had to head over there and get involved about a month ago,'' she said.

Sergeant Graham Wehipeihana said the soldier involved in the standoff was picked up by a colleague from the Palmerston North CBD about 1am yesterday and brought back to the house. It's believed he had been drinking.

Roads into the camp were blocked for more than five hours, but re-opened around 2.30pm.

Residents in Inglis Way and surrounding streets could be seen being evacuated into armoured vehicles and driven out of the cordon.

A woman, who asked not to be named, said her partner was inside the cordon and had told her some of the residents in the immediate vicinity of the house had been evacuated by prising open their back fences.

Many people who lived in the residential area were unable to get home, so waited at the entrance to Camp Rd, where armed police were turning away all traffic.

Raewynne Te Huia, who was staying with her daughter four houses away, was out walking yesterday morning when she saw armed officers in combat gear running across the road towards the man's property.

She heard at least four ''pops'' she thought were gunshots.

''It was quite frightening, you didn't know what he was going to do.''

Adam Strang also spent some time watching the cordon from his car. He said his wife's cousin was inside the cordoned area with a baby and at that time was waiting to be evacuated.

A family member had contacted her and said she was frightened.

''She's freaking out clutching her 1-year-old trying to figure out what's going on,'' he said.

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Meanwhile, the police investigation into the circumstances surrounding Private Ross' death was ongoing.

His body was to travel to Te Paatu marae near Kaitaia today where he will be laid to rest alongside his grandfather, uncle and niece.

- Manawatu Standard

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