Napier siege: Gunman found dead

01:36, May 20 2009
SHOTS FIRED: The scene on Chaucer Road this morning.
POLICE: Armed Offenders Squad members on Chaucer St.
POLICE: Gisborne Armed Offenders Squad arrive.
WITNESS: Johnny Ruhi peers over a roof onto Chaucer Rd.
DECEASED: Senior Constable Len Snee.
INJURED OFFICER: Grant Diver.
INJURED: Constable Bruce Miller is in serious condition in Hawke's Bay regional hospital.
SORRY: Anna Molenaar, the mother of alleged gunman Jan Molenaar speaks on Close-Up.
LAV: One of the light armoured vehicles brought in to back up police.
TRIBUTES: A colleague lays flowers at Napier police station in memory of slain officer Len Snee.
TENSE TIMES: Eastern District Commander, Superintendent Sam Hoyle at a press conference on the siege in Napier.
GRIEVING: Stan Tristram, a friend of the Snee family who worked with Len for many years in the Taradale police centre, read a statement of the behalf of Snee's wife Vicki, and two sons, Sam and Joe.
ENTERING POLICE CORDON: An army LAV tank moves into position in Napier.
AT THE SCENE: Police Minister Judith Collins.
An LAV on Chaucer Road on Friday night.
Special Tactics Group heading to the siege scene on Friday night.
TESTING THE BOUNDARIES: Jan Molenaar outside the "hobbit house'' he built in his backyard. He also called it the "council beater'' because it was small enough to avoid building regulations.
PREPARED FOR ANYTHING: Police and army personnel at work on the third and final day of the siege.
EMERGENCY SERVICES: Ambulances arrive at Chaucer Rd on the third and final day of the siege.
MEN FOR THE JOB: Special Tactics Group forces at work on day three of the siege.
HEAVY EQUIPMENT: A light armoured vehicle going to work on the third and final day of the siege.
SAFE AND SOUND: Police dog Fi, who has been given a clean bill of health after spending 30 hours in a police van during the siege. She had been presumed dead.
ARMED AND READY: Heavily armed and armoured forces move in on the third and final morning of the siege.
INTENSE MEDIA INTEREST: Police brief the media on the third and final morning of the siege.
Five men struggle to push a stretcher bearing the body of Jan Mollenaar uphill from his house to a waiting herse.
HELLUVA COLLECTION: Jan Molenaar's guns found in the seige house.
ARSENAL: Jan Molenaar's gun collection, found in his Chaucer St house.
ARSENAL: Firearms found in Jan Molenaar's bedroom.
BODY ARMOUR: Jan Molenaar's home-made steel bullet-proof vest.
LOADED: Ammunition found in Jan Moenaar's bedroom. Police are yet to recover more ammunition scattered around his house.

Going into the house at the centre of the Napier siege - where gunman Jan Molenaar was today found dead - was "extremely risky," police said.

Jan Molenaar had been holed up in a two-storey Napier house since early Thursday morning when he shot three policemen and a neighbour - killing one policemen and seriously injuring the others - during what was described by police as a regulation drugs raid.

The body found in the master bedroom of the Chaucer Rd address shortly after midday today is believed to be Jan Molenaar, operation head Superintendent Sam Hoyle told a 2pm press conference.

PREPARED FOR ANYTHING: Police and army personnel at work on the third and final day of the siege.

Police found explosives at the house and would maintain extensive cordons for some time yet.

"Explosives experts are assisting us to make sure the house is safe," Mr Hoyle said.

Immediate neighbours of Molenaar were still not able to return to their homes today while there was a danger the devices might explode, Mr Hoyle said.

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TESTING THE BOUNDARIES: Jan Molenaar outside the "hobbit house'' he built in his backyard. He also called it the "council beater'' because it was small enough to avoid building regulations.

The roads within the new cordon are Chaucer Rd South, Guys Hill Rd, Napier Terrace (from Chaucer Rd to Spencer Rd), all of Spencer Rd and Enfield Rd.

Police say the roadblocks will be in place for one or two days

"I understand completely people's frustration with being kept out of their homes. However we ask for patience for this next period while we let the explosives experts work.

"Once they hand the scene to police so we can commence a scene examination we can review our cordons and allow more people to return to their homes."

Police entered the siege house for the first time just after 11am this morning. It was "incredibly risky" to do so, Mr Hoyle said.

"We had achieved all we could without entering by exploring other tactics. This was a last resort if you like".

No one was harmed and no shots were fired in the operation.

Mr Hoyle was not able to say how or when Molenaar died, but he did say the body was still in the house.

"Those are both questions for the pathologist and the coroner who will determine ultimately the cause of death."

He was also not able to say what weapons were discovered at the house as the sole purpose for entering the house was to find Molenaar and confirm whether he was alive or dead.

It was revealed today armed police who had surrounded the house only fired two shots on the first day of the siege.

They were fired by one officer shortly after the policemen and Mr Holmwood were fired upon.

Other flashes seen by some members of the public coming from the armed police were from tear gas thrown into the house early this morning.

All other shots fired were from weapons used by Molenaar, Mr Hoyle said.

It was not known if Molenaar was injured by either of the police shots.

It was a "huge relief" that no other police officers or members of the public were injured during the siege, Mr Hoyle said.

"It was still a tragedy for (Molenaar's) family and for police this is just closing the final phase of an operation that was going to go for some weeks yet."

The announcement of the body's discovery came about an hour after LAVs, ambulances and Armed Offenders Squad vehicles were seen driving through a police cordon and up to the scene.

A number of inquiries into the incident will now start to get underway, Mr Hoyle said.

There will be a coronial inquiry, a homicide inquiry into the death of Mr Snee as well an investigation into the wounding of Mr Miller, Mr Diver and Mr Holmwood.

An investigation would also take place into the police operation, including reviewing decisions police had taken during the incident and tactical operations used.

It would also take into account the cannabis search warrant, which brought the three police officers to Chaucer Road at 9.30am on Thursday.

SHOT CIVILIAN NAMED

Police have named the neighbour who was shot by Molenaar on Thursday.

He is Leonard Holmwood, 44, of Napier.

Police have said Mr Holmwood, who was known to Molenaar, was shot when trying to disarm Molenaar as he fired at officers.

It had been an incredible relief to recover Senior Constable Len Snee's body, Mr Hoyle said.

"Having to leave him out there that first night was a hideous decision ... recovering him last night gave us a huge sense of relief."

Senior Constable Bruce Miller was still in intensive care, and police had been unable to speak to him.

Constable Grant Diver was in a general ward.

Mr Hoyle couldn't say what Molenaar's motivations were yet, he said.

Molenaar's actions seemed inexplicable and completely out of proportion to a cannabis search warrant, Mr Hoyle said.

"There's a long list of people to thank so I'm not going to attempt to mention everyone but there's been incredible patience displayed by those displaced people.

"There's been incredible generosity and kindness shown by numerous people."

Police staff had been incredibly dedicated, he said.

"We saw some truly heroic stuff, particularly in those first few hours when we recovered our wounded officers."

Armed offenders squad members arrived and rescued the injured Mr Diver all the while being allegedly fired upon by Molenaar.

Mr Miller was found by Detective Sergeant Tim Smith and two members of the public.

"They picked him up, put him in a car and took him from the scene. And again they did that under fire.

"I'm incredibly proud of the whole team," Mr Hoyle said.

POLICE DOG ALIVE

The police dog caught in the middle of the siege has been given a clean bill of health.

Sergeant Allan McRae this morning said that Fi had stayed silent for over 30 hours in the back of a police van which was "very, very unusual."

Fi's handler, Constable Diver, had been told of Fi's rescue and seemed to be "progressing well".

Fi, a specialist narcotics dog, was rescued during a focused operation to retrieve her around 10.30pm last night.

'AVERAGE NORMAL FATHER'

A former neighbour of the gunman at the centre of the long stand-off with police believes he wouldn't have wanted to come out alive.

Alex Cunliffe, 16, moved from Napier Hill two years ago but had spent the previous 13 years living just down Chaucer Road from Mr Molenaar.

Mr Cunliffe said he would visit Molenaar four or five times a week, and had remained in close contact.

He described Molenaar as an "average normal father".

Mr Cunliffe was at the edge of the cordon area when armed police descended on the gunman's property.

He was devastated when he heard the shots but said Molenaar was "the kind of guy who was always ready for something like this, he was prepared".

He said Molenaar had had a run in with police a week ago when he and his partner were driving around the suburb of Greenmeadows.

Mr Cunliffe said his friend "thought they (the police) were racists". Molenaar's partner was Maori.

He said Molenaar "wouldn't take s**t from anyone especially the police".

Mr Cunliffe did not think his friend had survived the latest round of shots last night but said "I don't think he would want to come out alive anyway".

Last night, 95 adults and 16 children, including families, were accommodated in Napier hotels and motels, according to Napier Civil Defence.

Rumours of a lack of beds and people sleeping in the Welfare Centre at Napier Intermediate School were untrue, Civil Defence controller Dennis Morgan said.

- with NZPA

 

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