Shootings: New Zealand Police concerned by increase in firearms incidents - and increase in those willing to use them

Police are concerned by a worrying increase in firearms incidents - and an increase in offenders who are willing to use them.

It has now been revealed that the man fatally shot by police in Hamilton on Wednesday night had fired at officers with a military-style semi-automatic weapon.

Meanwhile, a 36-year-old man shot by police in Auckland on Thursday has been released from hospital and is due in court on Saturday after allegedly holding two members of the public at gunpoint in a dramatic car-jacking.

CCTV footage provided to Newshub shows the moment it all began - the alleged offender casually walks over to the BMW X5, closes the boot and gets inside, having just grabbed a set of keys from the Youth Garage car dealer's office.

The company director tried to stop him from leaving.

"I feel like he didn't want to stop, he just tried to run over me," Youth Garage director Wilson Zhu told Newshub.

Zhu was forced to jump out of the way.

"He just kept driving towards me, then I realised I should just run away, otherwise he would hit me."

He watched the alleged offender speed away and called the police to report the incident.

Sales manager Nenad Novokov was shocked to discover the man had been armed.

"Afterwards, it kind of hits you in the head - it could have worked out way worse at our place."

They believe a woman scoped out the car-yard before the vehicle was stolen.

On Friday, a 36-year-old woman was charged with aggravated assault and burglary in relation to the incident.

The alleged offender, also 36, has been released from hospital and is facing three counts of aggravated wounding, aggravated assault, burglary, reckless driving and failing to stop.

Recent events reflect a rise in firearms use. Data released to Newshub shows shots were fired at police in 20 incidents in the two years to March.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says the trend is concerning.

"Offenders have always had firearms through the course of my career, but what's different is their willingness to use them - particularly on each other, and occasionally, as we've seen, on police."

Andrew Coster is concerned by the increasing number of firearms incidents.
Andrew Coster is concerned by the increasing number of firearms incidents. Photo credit: Getty Images

While the firearms amnesty didn't take all illegal firearms off the streets, Coster says it was a start.

"The good thing about where we are now is that those high-end semi-automatic firearms can no longer be purchased, and there are fewer in the community available to be stolen in burglaries, which is the most common way that they're accessed."

More frontline officers will undergo improved tactical firearms training, but although they're looking at a range of other options, police remain unlikely to recommend guns-on-hips.

The upskilling of frontline officers has already begun and recommendations are being presented to the Police Minister, Coster continued.

"The situations we've seen in the last couple of days demonstrate that our people do have access to firearms and are able to use them to safely resolve situations."

Meanwhile, Nenad Novokov is feeling lucky.

"I really do believe this guy would have done anything just to get that car."

He is relieved the man was apprehended and no members of the public were seriously hurt.