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New Zealand Police Officer Shot Dead

A police officer has been shot dead during a routine traffic stop in Auckland, New Zealand.

Another officer was seriously injured. The shooter fled the scene in a vehicle but it’s not known if he’s been caught. Around four hours after the shooting, armed police stormed a house and arrested two “persons of interest”, and found a firearm.

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 was in May 2009, when a senior constable was shot at a house in Napier while carrying out a routine search warrant.

At 10.28am, 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 police approached the vehicle of interest, a man got armed out with a “long-barrelled firearm”. “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.” 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.”

Armed police raided a house around four hours after the shooting, with local media saying two people were arrested.

Mr Coster later said they were speaking to “two persons of interest”, and had recovered “a firearm of interest”. “We are following strong lines of enquiry and our priority is to hold any offenders to account,” he added. “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 said the death was “devastating news”. “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.”