Armed police swarm Christchurch street

Armed police swarm Christchurch street
Photo credit: Newshub.

A "high priority investigation" is underway in Christchurch after a man wanted in relation to firearms died on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, information provided to police from the public led to a search warrant being issued for a property in the suburb of St Martins, where several firearms were discovered.

A 54-year-old man wanted in relation to the firearms was located by officers in a stopped vehicle in the Richmond Park area at 12:30am on Wednesday morning.

A police negotiation team spoke to the man for a number of hours, with a police helicopter and the Armed Offenders Squad also ready to support.

At 3:40am, officers approached the vehicle and found the man critically injured with what appeared to be a stab wound. A knife was also located in the vehicle.

While first aid was provided, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority, which investigates incidents where Police have caused death or serious injury, has been notified.

His vehicle was later examined by the New Zealand Defence Force Explosive Ordanance Squad, but was deemed safe. There were no firearms in the vehicle.

It was later towed into the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Service Precinct for forensic examination.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced a "high priority investigation" to determine if the man posed a threat to the community.

"This will include further searches of Christchurch properties and interviews with family and associates," said Bush.

At this stage, there is no evidence suggesting the man was involved in the March 15 attacks, but that will be investigated.

Bush encouraged people to remain vigilant and to inform police if they see anything suspicious.

Earlier, a resident told Newshub he heard what sounded like a gas canister going off in the area in the middle of the night. Police have confirmed they did deploy gas at the scene.

There will be a continued police presence in the Richmond Park area and at St Martins while scene examinations continue.