Gunman terrifies Taumarunui family

'I'd rather die trying to stop him'

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 11/02/2013
Jason Dickinson
PETER DRURY/ Fairfax NZ

AT THE READY: Jason Dickinson, with wife Alisha, 4-month-old daughter Lily-Jean and father, Rod at their Miro St home in Taumaranui. ‘‘I grabbed the first weapon at hand’’. 

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Jason Dickinson was ready to die for his wife, newborn baby and father as a crazed gunman cruised up to their Taumarunui home with a rifle pointed out the window screaming, "I'll f...... blow your heads off".

"I was freaking out," Mr Dickinson said yesterday, as he recalled the terrifying situation just hours earlier.

"I thought, I'd rather die trying to stop him getting inside than him just shooting us all."

It was one of several serious incidents, including a car stolen at gunpoint south of Taumarunui, that put the central North Island town on lockdown for four hours as police hunted a 19-year-old man understood to be armed.

Mr Dickinson, his wife Alisha and 4-month-old daughter Lily-Jean had stayed at the Miro St home to keep Mr Dickinson's father, Rod, company.

It was before 9am when a "respectable" and "nicely spoken" young man walked into the yard wearing a striped shirt and blue jeans.

He asked to use the phone to call the car wreckers because he'd blown a ball joint in his car.

Mr Dickinson said his dad was looking for the phone number when a neighbour rang and the call was answered on speaker phone.

"They [the neighbour] said watch out for this young guy who looks a bit crazy going your way - the guy must have noticed the voice."

The man then allegedly grabbed a knife and held it to the 71-year-old's throat and said if Rod didn't hang up the phone he'd "slit his throat".

Somehow the man got hold of Mr Dickinson's car keys and bolted out the door, leapt into the white Honda Accord in the driveway, reversed out and sped off. Rod then phoned police but the ordeal wasn't over.

Mr Dickinson understands the man drove to the nearby Caltex station, filled the car up with gas and left without paying.

The man returned to Miro St and the family, including newborn Lily-Jean, were outside.

"I had a big rock and I tried to throw it through the window and hit his face to slow him down. It was probably pretty stupid," Mr Dickinson said. "I didn't realise how serious the situation was."

The man stopped up the road, jumped out with a rifle and pointed it at the Dickinsons and fired.

"We were in a panic at that stage because my wife and baby were outside. I was telling them to duck and get the f... inside. He jumped back in the car and spun around to drive past and we're hiding behind a little truck that was parked up."

Mr Dickinson ran inside and grabbed the first weapon at hand, "a great big slasher".

"I was ready for him to try and have another go at us."

Instead, the man drove past with his rifle out the window, screaming.

A couple of hours later things came to a head in central Taumarunui.

Armed offenders squads were flown in from Hamilton and Whanganui and joined Taumarunui Police in cordoning two blocks bordered by the main shopping strip.

Ruapehu i-Site manager Tania Kelland was holed up inside her train station headquarters with her son, a staff member and the cleaner under orders from armed police outside. She had arrived after 8am to inspect damage to her premises after a break-in overnight.

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The cleaner, who alerted her to the damage, then left heading south toward Maata St and saw police going into the Mobil petrol station, Ms Kelland said.

It is understood the man entered the Mobil station where he threatened a staff member with a knife before running away.

Police arrested a 19-year-old Taumarunui man before noon.

He is due to appear at Taumaranui District Court today over several serious offences in a number of different locations including discharging a firearm in an "unsafe manner".

Police are appealing for witnesses who can contact the Taumarunui Police Station on (07) 895-811.

- Waikato Times

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