Man charged after armed stand-off

SIMON DAY
Last updated 15:51 18/06/2013
Penrose, Auckland
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ

EMERGENCY RESPONSE: Police and ambulance staff at the cordon around an incident in Penrose, Auckland where a man was holed up in a bank threatening self-harm.

Auckland bank holdup
HOLD UP: Westpac bank is on the ground floor on the side where the arrow is pointing. Orange squares indicate road blocks.
Armed police
JACINTH GUTLA
ON THE MOVE: An armed policeman at the scene of the police activity.

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A wheelchair-bound man allegedly involved in an armed stand-off with police at an Auckland bank last night has appeared in court.

The man, who has been given interim name suppression, has been charged with unlawful possession of an air pistol and presenting the firearm at another person.

He has been remanded in custody until July 3.

The 41-year-old was allegedly involved in a five-and-a-half hour drama in which nine bank workers were confined in the Westpac bank by the man, who entered the Great South Road branch in Penrose at about 4.30pm.

The man, who police said was known to health authorities, left the bank just before 10pm, after police warned him they would release dogs into the building.

Police slowly drew the man from the building speaking to him over a loud speaker, calling for him to leave the building.

The man was arrested without incident and taken to Auckland Central Police Station where he was held overnight.

''During the five hour ordeal the man asked to speak to a friend, but the nominated friend was unable to be located,'' a police spokeswoman said.

''No shots were fired throughout the incident which was eventually resolved by direct negotiation.''

Police were earlier heard calling for the man to ''come out with your hands up and leave the gun behind" over a loud speaker.

Police then said: "We will send the dogs in and they will bite you... We are here to help you.''

Earlier in the evening, police negotiators and the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) were in contact with the man by phone.

Ten children who were in lockdown in a Lollipops Educare centre in the building, along with three staff, were safely evacuated.

Last night, teacher Maria Doudhat said the children ranged in age from one to five-years-old, and most of them had their parents in the centre with them.

Nine bank staff who were in the building were released unharmed during the afternoon and it was thought they were not directly threatened by the man, believed to be a 41-year-old who arrived at the bank in a wheelchair.

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