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New Zealand police shooting: Man charged with murder after hunt

An armed officer at the scene of the shooting Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An armed officer at the scene of the shooting

A man has been charged with the murder of a New Zealand police officer after a shooting during a routine traffic stop.

Another officer was wounded in the incident, in Auckland, which PM Jacinda Ardern described as "devastating".

A 24-year-old man was arrested on Friday following a manhunt and later charged with offences including murder. He is expected in court on Saturday.

Police in New Zealand do not normally carry guns, and it is rare for officers to be killed in the line of duty.

According to the police, the last incident was in May 2009, when a senior constable was shot at a house in Napier while carrying out a routine search warrant.

What happened in the shooting?

At 10:28, police saw a "vehicle of interest" in Massey, west Auckland, and attempted to stop it.

"Lights and sirens were activated and police attempted to follow the vehicle," said Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. "However, the officers quickly lost sight of it."

A short time later, the vehicle was found "crashed into another vehicle". A member of the public suffered serious injuries - police originally said the injuries were not serious.

As officers approached the vehicle, a man got out, armed with a "long-barrelled firearm".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police confirmed that a suspect had been arrested and charged

"The offender has then fired multiple shots at the two police officers at the scene," Mr Coster said. "Both officers have been shot and tragically, one of our officers has been killed."

Police later named the officer who died as 28-year-old Constable Matthew Dennis Hunt. In a statement, his family said being a police officer had been "his life-long dream".

Police said that, after the shooting, the suspect got into another vehicle, a silver Mazda, and fled the scene. The vehicle was later found abandoned.

One witness told the NZ Herald he saw an injured officer jumping over a fence.

"He dropped to the ground and was looking around a bit, clutching his chest," the man said. "Then he jumped over the fence and ran off up the street."

How did the manhunt unfold?

Armed police raided a house about four hours after the shooting and arrested two "persons of interest". A firearm was found.

A 24-year-old man was subsequently charged. However, the investigation was continuing and police have not ruled out charging other people over the incident, Mr Coster said.

"This is a shocking situation. It is the worst news that police and police officers' families can ever receive in the course of what we do," he said.

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Media captionPolice Commissioner Andrew Coster: 'Details still unfolding'

What was the reaction?

"The incident points to the real risk that our officers face as they go about their jobs every day," said Mr Coster.

He confirmed the officers were not armed at the time. "At this stage there is nothing to indicate that this job was going to be anything out of the ordinary."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered her condolences to the officer's family and police colleagues.

"Our police officers work hard every day to keep us and our communities safe," she said.

Only this month, New Zealand Police said a six-month trial of "armed response teams" would not continue.

"I want to reiterate that I am committed to New Zealand Police remaining a generally unarmed police service," said Mr Coster.

"How the public feels is important - we police with the consent of the public, and that is a privilege."

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