Officer's body recovered

Last updated 21:00 08/05/2009
EVA BRADLEY
SUBURBAN VIOLENCE: A man lies injured on Chaucer Rd, directly opposite where the gunman opened fire. Soon after this photo was taken, a police car drove up the street to collect the man, before reversing back at speed to a waiting ambulance. Inset is gunman Jan Molenaar.
The Dominion Post
SCENE OF THE SIEGE: Patrol cars guard quiet Napier streets this morning.
Napier Mail
DECEASED: Senior Constable Len Snee.
Supplied
INJURED OFFICER: Bruce Miller.
Supplied
INJURED OFFICER: Grant Diver.
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LOADED: Ammunition found in Jan Moenaar's bedroom. Police are yet to recover more ammunition scattered around his house.

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LATEST: 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.

Armed police surrounded the house of 51-year-old Jan Molenaar yesterday following the slaying of a Senior Constable Len Snee and the wounding of two other policemen and a neighbour.

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 around 5pm today and more than 20 shots were heard.

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 this evening but said "I don't think he would want to come out alive anyway".

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Tonight in a TV3 interview with Campbell Live, another old friend of Molenaar's, Tony Moore, said the gunman had told him this morning that "things had gone a bit far".

"Unfortunately he's gone a bit far in what's happened and he feels there's only one positive outcome - unfortunately that's dead."

Moore said his friend regretted shooting the police officers and "wishes he could turn the clock back".

"He just doesn't know how to get out of the situation. All he can see is himself and the hole he's put himself in."

Molenaar had indicated that he had been wounded "but he sounded alive enough to me," Moore said.

Moore was not clear on how the gunman's wounds were caused. "He maybe bleeding but I'm pretty sure with all his background ... he's pretty well got it under control."

Moore said he had tried to talk to his friend about surrendering to police. However, Molenaar giving himself up was "not in the equation at that stage"."He expected if this confrontation ever happened, him to be dead."

When Moore was asked if Molenaar was prepared to die, he replied: "He accepted death as soon as he pulled the trigger."

"He's indicated to me that he's going to have a drink with his brother Joe (who committed suicide in 2003) ... and there's only one way to visit him."

ACTIVITY INTENSIFIES

Police communications manager Kaye Calder said the operation was continuing.

"The situation is unchanged", she said.

Police activity at the scene has intensified with reports that armed police were closing in on the Chaucer Rd property.

A Stuff.co.nz reporter at the scene said a dog car, armoured van, two AOS trucks and a St John's Ambulance four wheel drive passed through the police cordon and were headed for the house.

Police have not yet entered the house, according to sources.

Earlier, around 20 shots were heard at the scene of the siege in Napier in the past hour, followed by news police had retrieved Senior Constable Len Snee's body from the driveway of the Chaucer Rd property.

Eastern District Commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle said it was a relief to bring the body away from the scene.

"Police were very pleased to be able to do that for Mr Snee's family"

It is believed that an Army LAV that left the scene just after 5pm was carrying Mr Snee's body.

The gunman remains at the Chaucer Road house.

Police communications manager Kaye Calder says no injuries were sustained during the retrieval of Mr Snee's body.

There was an initial volley of around 10 shots followed by a number of separate shots just after the police entered the property.

Police are in 'tense' negotiations with a gunman and today said it may be days before the siege is over.

Jan Molenaar is holed up in a house on Napier Hill after shooting and killing Senior Constable Len Snee, 53, who was executing a cannabis search warrant, about 9.30am yesterday.

A neighbour in a nearby house says they are fearful for their safety.  

"We are covering at the moment, it's too dangerous to look out the window because we can see right in."  

"He has been firing at the [neighbouring] houses.

"I'm so tired and sick of it now. I feel like getting a bloody gun and shooting the bastard myself," the woman said.

Yesterday Senior Constable Bruce Miller, 40, a community constable in the suburb of Ahuriri, dog handler Senior Constable Grant Diver, 50, and a neighbour were wounded by gunshots.

They are in intensive care in Hawke's Bay Hospital and their conditions were listed as critical this morning.

At a press conference in Napier this afternoon Mr Hoyle told media that police were prepared to wait it out.

"This could be over in five minutes or it could be another five days."

He said police were prepared for either eventuality.

"I am well aware that time is moving on and we have been working on this for more than 24 hours."

He said every resource had been made available to police, with over 100 extra officers brought in from around the country.

He also confirmed that the bomb squad had been called in but would not give more any more details.

"I have to have consideration for those officers still on the ground who are still putting themselves under considerable risk under the knowledge three of their colleagues were shot yesterday."

Around 1.40pm a light-armoured vehicle, an armed offenders squad wagon, and an ambulance went into Chaucer Rd in a successful bid to evacuate an elderly woman who needed medication.

Street lights were turned off around the house last night. Mr Hoyle said there were a number of options police had regarding utilities. "Some we have used, some we haven't".

Mr Hoyle said police were continuting negotiations with the gunman but wouldn't elaborate on whether any demands had been made.

Police also said the civilian shot as he tried to wrestle a gun away from Molenaar yesterday remained in a serious condition.

The man, believed to be a neighbour of Molenaar, had arrived at the house as police were executing a search warrant.

He had tried to wrestle the firearm away as Molenaar shot at police, Mr Hoyle said.

Police have also been speaking with Mr Molenaar's friends and family to try to understand his motivation for the shooting.

''The negotiations have been tense. We are dealing with a very complex character and as you might expect in negotiations going on for this amount of time he goes through various mood swings,'' said Mr Hoyle.

He said Molenaar had a number of firearms with him and at least one of them was a semi-automatic rifle. He would not speculate on whether Molenaar had explosives in the house.

Mr Diver's five-year-old police dog Fi was with him during the attack. Police say the dog is still in Mr Diver's van but nobody has heard from him yet.

''There is a degree of urgency for getting him out of the van,'' Mr Hoyle said.

It is believed that Fi may be dead.

CORDON, CONTAIN, APPEAL

Shots were heard overnight and light armoured vehicles were brought in to back up police at the scene where gunman Molenaar is holed up in a house.

Mr Hoyle said fresh tactical staff from all over the country were being rotated to the scene.

"We are relying on the tried and true policy of cordon, contain and appeal."

The civilian who was critically wounded in yesterday's shooting had arrived at Molenaar's house while the search warrant was being executed yesterday morning, Mr Hoyle said.

"He's attempted to disarm the offender and for his trouble got shot."

He had acted quite heroically, Mr Hoyle said.

Police had been able to speak with Mr Diver in hospital overnight. His information had shed "quite a bit" of light on the situation, Mr Hoyle said.

Police had been striving to interview as many of gunman's associates as possible - as well as speaking to his family - to ascertain how many weapons he had at his disposal, he said.

"We know he has a number of weapons, he's fired on us with a number of different calibres."

He did not hold a firearms licence, Mr Hoyle said.

When asked what his message to the gunman would be, Mr Hoyle said: "Give himself up".

"Answer his phone and give himself up."

The gunman had only been answering phone calls sporadically from police overnight, he said.

Mr Hoyle said he wished for the gunman to surrender to police and go through the normal criminal process.

"We want a peaceful resolution with no one getting hurt."

SCHOOLS CLOSED

Police Commissioner Howard Broad and Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott visited the scene this morning.

Police spokeswoman Kaye Calder said police asked the defence force for ''assistance with resources''. The army had responded by sending two light armoured vehicles.

Three schools were closed today as a precautionary measure.

Parents and caregivers of Napier Central School, Napier Intermediate and Nelson Park School were being asked to make alternative arrangements for their children.

Road blocks were in place at several major intersections and commuters were being asked to take alternative routes.

About 30 armed offenders squad (AOS) members and other specialist police staff from across the North Island were continuing to surround the house, Ms Calder said.

Members of the Special Tactics Group - the police counter-terrorist and tactical wing - have joined AOS officers in the cordon around the house.

A journalist at the scene reported three armoured vehicles had arrived in the area around the house, where former army reservist Mr Molenaar was holed up with a rifle and possibly explosives.

Mr Molenaar, a 51-year-old former territorial army member, has been firing a high-powered rifle sporadically at police officers surrounding the house.

Eastern District Commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle said last night the gunman could stay holed up in his house for hours.

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