Three people are in custody and a number of illegal firearms have been recovered after a dramatic police chase culminated in a couple being held at gunpoint and a car with two young children inside being t-boned in south Auckland.
Armed police were responding to the incident in the suburb of Ōpaheke, near Papakura, earlier on Thursday. Members of the public had been told to avoid the area as officers made enquiries.
The dramatic incident kicked off when a patrol vehicle tried to pull over a car in Wattle Downs just after 11am, as police had a warrant to arrest one of the occupants.
"We tried to stop this vehicle. The lights were activated [but] this car has sped off," Inspector Kerry Watson, shift commander for the Auckland Metropolitan Area, told Newshub.
"Our patrol has elected not to engage with this vehicle. Soon after, our helicopter has come over the top and observed the behaviour of this vehicle. It's driven at speed in and around the Papakura area.
"We've then seen it approach another vehicle in the Red Hill area. The occupants of this vehicle have then pulled two people out of the vehicle at gunpoint and taken their vehicle, an SUV. This vehicle was then driven at speed and [with] erratic behaviour."
A police unit was able to deploy tyre deflation devices successfully, but the vehicle continued along and went through traffic lights at speed, t-boning another vehicle.
"[It was] a very, very dangerous manoeuvre," Insp Watson said. "Unfortunately in this vehicle was a mum and her two-year-old and four-year-old."
The trio fled from the scene on foot, but were all located nearby and taken into custody.
The mother and her two kids have been rushed to hospital, though Insp Watson says none of the injuries are serious as the car they were in was "quite solid". However one of the children is in Middlemore Hospital in a moderate condition.
He says the two people who were held at gunpoint have been left "very distressed" by the incident. They and the mother and two children have been engaged by Victim Support.
Police are now asking for witnesses and those with more information to come forward, and are on the lookout for an outstanding firearm. Two illegal firearms have been recovered from the vehicle that failed to stop.
"This incident could've ended up a lot worse. We're thankful we have three in custody and no one has serious injuries," Insp Watson said.
The trio were wanted on Justice Department matters. They are all now assisting police with enquiries and will face charges at a later stage.
Insp Joe Hunter, Area Commander for Counties Manukau South, says the incident was "incredibly volatile".
"The decisions made by these three people have been incredibly reckless and dangerous," he said. "Our community are as equally as disappointed as police are in this high risk behaviour that puts people's safety at risk."
Photos from the scene showed officers standing at at the intersection of Opaheke Rd and Settlement Rd, next to a black four-wheel drive that appears to have been involved in a serious crash.
A video posted online showed police taking cover behind their cars with weapons drawn.
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Police had earlier put cordons in place at the intersections of Great South Rd and Settlement Rd, Opaheke Rd and Alexander St, Opaheke Rd and Onslow Rd, and King Edward Ave and Settlement Rd.
Auckland Transport had advised motorists "to delay your journey, avoid this area or expect diversions and traffic delays until further notice".
A main bus route had also been detoured, with people who normally take the 373 bus told to use the Papakura Train Station stop as the nearest alternate.
Members of a local Ōpaheke Facebook group said an Eagle helicopter had been circling the area and police dogs had been deployed.