new zealand police 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
A man who apparently kept New Zealand police surrounding his home at bay with repeated volleys of gunfire for nearly three days after allegedly killing an officer has been found dead, authorities said Saturday.
The standoff that began Thursday as officers were searching the house for cannabis forced hundreds of nearby residents to flee their homes and closed local businesses and schools, virtually shutting down the North Island city of Napier.
Police called in friends of former army reservist Jan Molenaar, 51, to help them negotiate but without success. 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. Police said they preferred to wait it out, rather than raid the house.
But as the siege entered its third day, 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.
Hoyle said he was not yet able to comment on how or when the gunman died, though police said earlier they did not shoot at the man. He did not say whether they knew Molenaar was dead before they entered the house, but earlier told reporters they were treating the situation as if he was still "alive and dangerous."
Hoyle told reporters police had located explosives in the house and would maintain extensive cordons for some time, without revealing the nature of the materials.
"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.
"We are pleased for the family that we are able to bring him out - it has been a traumatic and immensely difficult time for them," Hoyle said.
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 and out of critical care, 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.
Hundreds of residents of the port city remained cut off from their homes after the siege ended, and local businesses and three nearby schools remained closed.
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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