Ashburton a town under siege
Ashburton has been a town under siege, as armed police blocked roads and a helicopter circled overhead.
They were trying to find the gunman who killed two people and injured a third in Ashburton's Work and Income office.
Residents were escorted to cars by friends - too scared to venture onto the street alone.
Carol Ward and her daughter Sarah said they knew one of the women killed in this morning's shooting.
"She's a very nice lady - she's very firm in the job that she does. It's a loss to the welfare system," Carol Ward said.
"She's been in there many years."
The shooting brought back horrible memories of the murder of Kirsty Bentley.
"It's the helicopters," she said
"I'm actually quite shocked that it's happened here again," Sarah Ward said.
"It brought me to tears that some man could take it upon himself to take his revenge out on her. She's the type of person who you actually request to see."
Chalmers Ave resident Wayne Williams said this morning' events would rock the town to its core.
Some elderly residents on the street were too scared to come out of their houses.
Williams feared the gunman could emerge after dark and try to hide in people's sheds or garages.
"If they [the police] don't pick him up soon I don't think anyone along here will be sleeping tonight."
'HE SAW IT ALL HAPPEN'
An employee at the neighbouring Radcliffe Electrical building said a man ran from the Work and Income office into his building after the shooting.
The man was uninjured, but was "pretty shaken up" by what had happened, the employee said.
"He saw it all happen."
An employee at another neighbouring business, who would not be named, said the shooting unfolded in Cass St about 10am.
"I heard yelling and abuse and that's what got me off my seat and then I heard what sounded like a car backfiring a little bit later.
"I just looked at the window and saw people running... running out of the building."
Armed police were in the area and the store was on "lock-down", the woman said.
"We've got no idea what's happening and what we should be doing."
The general manager of neighbouring Electraserve, Blair Watson, said the Work and Income building was in "lockdown" and had been cordoned off by police.
He understood a man had run into the building and "fired off a couple of shots".
At least two ambulances had been at the scene, he said.
Security guard Tommy Tominiko was meant to be carrying out a job at the WINZ office this morning, but arrived as police were putting a cordon up around the building.
He was waiting nearby for further instructions from his office, and could see a number of police officers in the area, including some who were armed.
"It's pretty crazy," he said.
Ashburton resident Felicity Stacey-Clark saw two helicopters fly over her house, including a rescue helicopter which landed next to Ashburton Hospital.
"Normally they're in and out of there pretty quick, so if they're still there someone must be pretty unwell."
She believed the other helicopter belonged to police, and had seen it flying over the Ashburton River.
Police set up a cordon between Helen Martin's house on Chalmers Ave and the Ashburton River.
Martin said she was woken up by police this morning and told to leave her house.
She had been working nights and was let back into her house about 12.40pm "to get some sleep".
Martin said there were no other houses between hers and the river.
She had not heard any shots or anything else about the incident, but had been told to stay inside.