Waikato Police urge caution following series of firearms incidents

Waikato Police urge caution following series of firearms incidents

National News

Too serious to ignore is how the Waikato Police's senior spokesman on firearms describes a series of events in the District over recent days.

District Firearms Officer, Richard Plas, said with two people shot, one person threatening self harm, another threatening to shoot a former partner and an offender being found with a sawn-off shotgun in a crashed stolen vehicle, the issue of secure security of firearms needed to be addressed.

"In the most serious incident a 19-year-old woman suffered serious injuries after being accidentally shot by a teenager in possession of an illegally obtained sawn-off shotgun in Te Aroha on Saturday.

"Then a 14-year-old boy suffered an injury to his leg after being shot by a 19-year-old male in a relative's shed in Hamilton overnight. Alcohol and what appears to be synthetic cannabis appear to have played a factor in what occurred."

Mr Plas said these weekend incidents followed two last Monday. In one, members of the Waikato Armed Offenders Squad helped colleagues manage a firearms related domestic in Gordonton, while in the other, officers dealt with a man threatening to shoot his ex-partner in the Hamilton suburb of Nawton.

"The same night a Christchurch offender was found with a sawn-off shotgun in his possession in a stolen car that crashed in Waihi.

"When viewed in isolation, all of these incidents give cause for serious concern and when viewed collectively we see a clear picture that all too often, firearms are not being used or secured appropriately."

Mr Plas said whenever illegally obtained firearms are recovered, part of the Police's follow up enquiries are around if the firearms had been properly secured when they were stolen.

"Only last month Thames Police investigating the theft of three unsecured firearms ended up following reports of a teenage boy who had obtained one of the stolen weapons, a .303 rifle which he accidentally discharged , firing a projectile through his wall and into his neighbour's home.

"Police want firearms owners to ensure they live up to the responsibilities of their license. That they secure their firearms and store ammunition separately, it's all about minimising the risks and preventing tragedy from occurring in the first place."

Mr Plas said anyone wanting further information was encouraged to contact the Arms Office in Hamilton Central Police Station on 07 858 6200.

Alternatively, people can access the Mountain Safety Council's Firearms Safety page on http://www.mountainsafety.org.nz/Safety-Tips/Firearms-Safety.asp

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