Bay of Plenty siege arrest: Officer rejects hero tag
The police officer who walked into a cordon to bring out the alleged gunman in the Bay of Plenty siege says he's no hero.
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Four police officers were shot - with one sustaining serious injuries - on Wednesday, sparking an armed siege with a man who had been holed up in a house in Onepu Springs Rd, near Kawerau.
Taupo area commander Warwick Morehu came out from behind his desk to bring the siege to a peaceful end.
Police arrested Rhys Warren, 27, taking him into custody "without incident" just after 9am on Thursday morning.
Morehu, who was also a Maori liaison officer, had helped talk down the alleged shooter.
"To me the heroes are the guys that went to hospital yesterday," he told media.
FAMILY MESSAGES TO ACCUSED
Family messages with Warren had stopped the siege from becoming a tragedy.
The arrest followed "lengthy contact throughout the night with the individual by police negotiators and other police staff," police said.
Warren's mother, Renee Wetini, said a combined effort had convinced her boy to give himself up.
Warren had used social media to talk with friends and whanau overnight.
Wetini said her son was in "a dark hole" but started to come to a mental state of clarity towards morning.
He was in tears when she last spoke to him.
"He was starting to cry - he was starting to come to a clarity."
Warren would be given a medical check and taken to Whakatane police station, where he would be interviewed.
'BIG SHOT' LAWYERS
Wetini said she had gone on the internet to find "big shot" lawyers from Auckland who would be coming down.
"Now we go to the next step - get the lawyer to help us. We didn't realise how much support we had."
She said police assumed someone from her house shot at a police plane, which sparked the police cordons, but they had no proof.
She admitted shed been "too proud" to ask for help from whanau for her boy.
"The family is going at 100 miles an hour working and we're not at home to help him. To see that something's not quite right."
Wetini was visibly upset after the siege came to an end just after 9am, and was comforted by whanau.
Warren's family had set themselves up a makeshift camp at the police cordon overnight. One family member was taken away in an unmarked police car about midnight.
His mother had earlier pleaded with police to let family bring him out of the house.
SHOTGUN, .22 RIFLE BELIEVED USED
Police Commissioner Mike Bush told media one of the officers had been shot in the head.
It was believed three officers were shot with a shotgun and one might have been shot with a .22 rifle.
Talking at a press conference shortly after 11.30am on Thursday, he said it was his understanding that three officers were inside the house.
He said the police officer with a head wound "will be operated on as we speak".
Earlier he told RNZ it was thought some of the wounded officers were shot at close range.
He had discounted an earlier suggestion the wounded police had been injured in a gun accident.
Police had been on the ground in the area for the cannabis recovery operation and "stayed in situation" when shots were heard, and the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) called immediately.
Bay of Plenty AOS squad members came in, and it was those highly trained staff who were shot.
One officer remained in a serious but stable condition in hospital, while two of his colleagues had been discharged. Another officer remained in hospital, requiring further treatment for a gunshot wound to their hand.
'TERRIFIED OF SURRENDERING'
While the siege was underway the alleged gunman had been keeping in touch with whanau and friends by text messages and social media posts from inside the house, the family said.
His mother had earlier said: "We can get him out. We're confident."
"Son, we love you, you better come out, there is more for us on this Earth."
Her son had got a job helping build a local geothermal park, where she found out Mongrel Mob gang members were also working, she said.
Before working at the geothermal park, her son had done a carpentry course and had planned to join the army, but was too young.