Armed incident in Upper Hutt

Police in Upper Hutt still have the scene cordoned off (SNPA)
Police in Upper Hutt still have the scene cordoned off (SNPA)

A woman who was inside an Upper Hutt McDonald's at the time an armed man walked in said she didn't think she'd live to celebrate her wedding anniversary tomorrow.

Tracey Petterson was at the restaurant with a client in a wheelchair and says the restaurant was full will children.

She hadn't noticed him come in until he'd fired a double-barrelled shotgun inside the restaurant.

"When I leaned back, he didn't have the gun pointing towards the air, [it] was pointed toward staff."

He said he was waiting for someone.

The man then told everyone to "get the f*** out of here", and those inside started to panic and scream as they left, she said.

However, Ms Petterson had trouble getting the wheelchair out of the restaurant so was stuck inside.

"He turned towards us with the gun. I thought 'Oh my god', I'm going to die.

"He said 'I'm not going to hurt you. Get the f*** out of here'," she said.

She was celebrating her wedding anniversary tomorrow and didn't believe she'd live to see it.

The man was later shot dead by police. No one else was injured.

Police were called to the scene on Main St around 12:40pm, after reports of a gunman on the loose. The man was shot dead after presenting a gun at the armed officers.

A woman trying to persuade the man to give up his weapon was convinced he would do so, before he was shot dead, her boss says.

David Loveroy, who owns a shop across the road from Upper Hutt's McDonald's where the shooting happened on Tuesday, told NZ Newswire he had gone to get lunch and called his staff only to learn one was trying to talk the gunman into surrendering.

"She said she was talking to him. I told her to walk inside, lock the shop. She said she was talking to him and she thought he was going to give up the gun," he said.

"She was adamant he was going to put the gun down."

He said moments later he heard the gun shot and woman began to cry.

"She was only a metre away," he said.

Meanwhile, a 15-year-old witness, Joao Pedro told NZ Newswire he saw the woman come out to talk to man and described him as screaming at no one down the street.

"He was standing there, the police comes around the corner, or the dog. I think he tries to shoot at the dog but misses and they shoot twice at his body," he said.

"He hit him once, and then he started stumbling and then fell over. The dog grabbed his leg and then he stopped moving."

A Wellington Free Ambulance spokesperson told Fairfax Media an off-duty paramedic was at the scene at the time and helped before the ambulances arrived. Police said the man died a short time later, despite immediate medical attention.

At a news conference this afternoon, Wellington District Commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle said the man had shot at police and they attempted to negotiate with him.

He praised the work of police staff, saying "this was about as difficult as it gets for our frontline staff".

Supt Hoyle said shooting the man was the appropriate action given the circumstances.

A number of aspects of the case, including the man's motivations and his history, would come out in the investigation.

Earlier reports a police dog was shot were incorrect. Supt Hoyle said a police dog was released at same time the offender was shot, but the dog was not shot.

Support was being offered to the man's family, police staff involved and the many witnesses, he said.

No one else was being sought in relation to the incident and police said people were safe to go about their business.

Two forensic tents have been set up at the scene.

A crowd of people had gathered at the cordon near the McDonald's where the incident began.

Police were speaking to a large number of witnesses who were in the area at the time, and a full investigation into the incident is underway.

Earlier, the mall in Main St was in lockdown and council offices were closed.

In a Facebook post, St Joseph's Catholic Primary School said it was also in lockdown and would remain as such until advised otherwise by police. All students were safe.

Witness Vasely Sapunov, who filmed part of the incident on his phone while in his car, said he was just about the leave the shopping area when he saw things start to happen.

"I saw one undercover cop car head through with its sirens flashing. Then I saw a female police officer with a rifle basically just yelling. Eventually the street filled with police and that's when I started freaking out a bit because I knew what was going on," he said.

"After that, there was a few people on the street scattered and police were yelling at people to get back inside any of the premises or businesses and I stayed in my car and put my head down.

"Eventually I heard the gunshots go off and that's when I started freaking out and my hands started shaking," he said.

Norman Wilson, of Carpet Court opposite McDonald's on Main St, said he heard three or four shots, maybe more.

Everybody had been told to stay inside and were behind closed doors, he told NZ Newswire.

Two ambulances had turned up but one had left by 1:40pm, he said.

A man who called 3 News said a friend who worked in the Upper Hutt shopping area had been told by police there was a man with a gun and was told to stay inside the store.

Witness Johann Go said he was in a restaurant when the lockdown happened.

"We were told to stay indoors, hid under tables, heard shots," he told RadioLIVE.

Train services running through the Upper Hutt were suspended, but have now resumed.

3 News / NZN