NZ police say standoff ends, gunman found dead


Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A standoff between a well-armed military reservist and dozens of police that shut down part of a New Zealand city for nearly three days ended Saturday when the gunman was found dead in his house.

It was not immediately clear what killed Jan Molenaar, who is accused of opening fire on a group of police who came to his house Thursday to look for suspected drugs. One officer was killed and three other people badly wounded.

Police had said for days they were willing to wait out Molenaar - whom they said repeatedly sprayed gunfire at them - rather than raid the house in Napier city. Hundreds of people from surrounding homes, schools and businesses were evacuated as a precaution.

But as the standoff entered its third day on Saturday, Superintendent Sam Hoyle said officers used explosives to blow a hole in the house's ground floor to see inside and to destroy any booby traps.

Police still had no view of the master bedroom where Molenaar had barricaded himself, he said. When they finally entered the house, Molenaar was dead, Hoyle said.

Police had earlier called in friends of Molenaar, 51, to help them negotiate an end to the standoff but without success. Gunfire erupted periodically from the house, apparently directed at the police outside.

There was no indication that Molenaar made any demands and he reportedly told friends at one point that he would rather die than be sent to prison.

Hoyle said he was not able to comment on how or when the gunman died, though police said earlier they did not shoot at the man.

Hoyle told reporters police had located explosives in the house and would maintain extensive cordons for some time.

"Explosives experts are assisting us to make sure the house is safe," he said, adding that residents would continue to be kept away from the area.

Molenaar became enraged Thursday when he arrived home to find police in his house conducting a drug raid. According to police, he fired a fusillade of shots from an automatic rifle, killing one officer and seriously wounding two others. A bystander who tried to wrestle the gun away from Molenaar was also shot.

It was unclear why the bystander was at the property or whether the attack happened inside or outside the house.

One police officer died beside his car outside the property, but volleys of gunshots from the house blocked police attempts to retrieve his body until Friday night.

Hoyle said that only two shots were fired by police during the siege, and all other gunfire had come from Molenaar, who allegedly fired on police "dozens of times."

One of two wounded police officers and the civilian remained in critical condition, while the second wounded officer was stable, Napier Hospital said.

Late Friday night, police also rescued "very much alive" a police dog, named Fi, that had been trapped inside a police van since the shooting began, police said in a statement.

Intermittent negotiations with Molenaar had been tense and difficult, police said.

New Zealand is among few countries in the world where police routinely do not carry guns. The officer shot dead was the 29th killed on duty in New Zealand since 1890.

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