Key praises police over Napier siege

05:49, May 13 2009

Prime Minister John Key has today praised police's handling of the stand-off with Napier gunman Jan Molenaar.

Molenaar, 51, gunned down three policeman and a civilian on Thursday, killing Senior Constable Len Snee and wounding the others.

Speaking on Radio Live he said stories of heroism were yet to be told.

"There were some really heroic acts. I understand police officers actually threw themselves (to) cover the bodies of the two injured police officers, I don't know all the stories yet. It's a terrible situation but I think there are going to be some great stories of heroism."

Mr Key said he hoped to attend Mr Snee's funeral on Wednesday.

"I am going to do my best to get there I would like to," he told NewstalkZB this morning.


Mr Key said police had dealt with the tense situation well.

"I think they did a very, very good job it was an extremely difficult circumstance," he said.

After the killing and woundings police still had to deal with the "unknown quantity" Molenaar presented.

"No one really knew if the house was booby-trapped, what weapons he had, they just knew that he was unstable, dangerous and had killed," Mr Key said.

Molenaar's house was rigged with booby-traps and improvised explosive devices and he had an arsenal of weapons and ammunition.

Mr Key said the case had raised concerns about the number of unregistered weapons in New Zealand but emphasised the case was not a common occurrence.

`This is one that has gone tragically and terribly wrong and I guess we will go away and take stock of that."

He understood the calls that police should carry arms, but said while that may have been useful in this situation often it was counter productive.

Overseas research had shown police weapons overseas were turned against officers and having armed police made the force unapproachable.

"There are a lot of risks with arming the police. . .my preference would be not to arm police."

Civil Defence Minister John Carter today said civil defence volunteers in the city, led by Napier City Council civil defence manager Angela Reade had done a good job.

"Civil defence volunteers worked in shifts to man the welfare centre, which registered more than 300 people forced from their homes by the incident. More than 100 were given alternative accommodated each night," he said in a statement.

"This operation could have stretched over several more days. Other civil defence groups in the region were ready to give assistance if they were needed. It was a good response."

He praised police and emergency services.

Mr Carter said Mayor Barbara Arnott's home was in a street affected by the stand off.

" She experienced the tension first-hand and, like many other people, was forced from her home."