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Praise for police in Christchurch gun drama

Last updated 05:00 03/10/2012
Daniel Tobin

Dog handler Constable Lyal Bayliss talks about apprehending a man armed with a shotgun who was involved in an alleged home invasion.

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Two Christchurch policemen who wrestled a shotgun-wielding masked man to the ground after a violent home invasion say they were simply happy to go home alive.

Constables Darrin Pavelka, Lyal Bayliss and police dog Brock were among the first at the scene after two men wearing balaclavas allegedly forced their way into a Northcote Rd house and threatened a woman at gunpoint about 1am yesterday.

One of the suspects pointed a loaded gun at the officers after they tracked him to a property nearby, where a dramatic arrest ensued.

Yesterday afternoon, the officers were still recounting the sequence of events - and grappling with how easily it could have "gone the other way".

Neighbours phoned 111 after screams of terror were heard coming from the house, where police say the men demanded money from a woman at gunpoint.

Police said a single shot was fired inside the house before the two offenders fled.

Pavelka was returning from another job when the call came over the car radio to go to the address.

He joined dog handler Bayliss and Brock, who tracked one of the suspects to nearby Fenchurch St.

Brock stopped at a bush - and it was all on.

Police said the offender turned and pointed the loaded shotgun at Bayliss and Pavelka before Brock was able to subdue him. With the help of Pavelka, Bayliss wrestled him to the ground.

Yesterday Police Commissioner Peter Marshall praised the officers' "remarkable courage".

Bayliss, 37, said that in the heat of the moment, "you just react". "We wanted to catch the bad guy . . . get him off the street . . . get that gun off him.

"Everything just happened so quick. It was split seconds."

Pavelka said his "sole focus" was the shotgun.

"You think about it a lot afterwards. We get trained for this, but when it does happen it's a lot to process," he said.

"At the time, you just want to get in there."

Bayliss said other police officers got to them "pretty quick" once they had subdued the suspect.

Once it was all over, Bayliss said he felt "wound up and angry".

"I've been in the job 14 years, and that was the first time I've been put in a position like that."

He got about three hours' sleep and returned to work last night. "Things are bouncing around in your head," he said.

"I keep replaying in my head, and all the what ifs. I don't think the whole reality of it has properly kicked in yet."

Pavelka said that kind of incident was "certainly a first time for me" and attributed the outcome to "fantastic teamwork".

"When you think about what if it had gone the other way, that is quite a scary thought," he said. Marshall said the way the two officers reacted was "a very brave thing to do".

“We expect a lot of our officers, as we rightly should, but it takes considerable courage to take on an armed and threatening offender.”

Bayliss and Pavelka said they did not consider themselves heroes.

"That's our job. Serve and protect," Pavelka said.

"I wouldn't say a hero. We are doing our job and we reacted in a way that we actually got the best possible outcome," Bayliss said.

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As for Brock's good work, Bayliss said he had promised him an ice-cream.

- The Press

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