PM says man was “a known threat to New Zealand”
Police in New Zealand shot and killed a “violent extremist” after he stabbed and wounded at least six people in an Auckland supermarket on Friday. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the incident was a “terrorist attack” carried out by a Sri Lankan national who was under police surveillance.
The man, who has not been identified, was a supporter of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, Ardern said.
Police killed the man within 60 seconds of the attack.
“What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong,” Ardern said in a news conference. “It was carried out by an individual, not a faith.”
“Of the six wounded people, three are in a critical condition and one is in a serious condition”, health officials said.
A St John spokesperson told 1 NEWS five ambulances and three rapid response units were called to the scene at 2.40pm. “Police deliberately distracted the man to get his attention, who in turn charged at the officers. It is understood the officers then shot him.” he said. At a press conference Friday, Jacinda Ardern went on to say that the man was “a known threat to New Zealand”.
Ardern said the man was a Sri Lankan national who arrived in New Zealand in October 2011 but became a person of interest from 2016.
He was inspired by ISIS, Ardern said, and had a violent ideology.
The reasons he is known to agencies is subject to court suppression orders, but the Prime Minister said it was her view that it was in the public interest to share as much information as possible.
By law, he was not able to be kept in prison.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster provided more detail, saying the man was “under heavy surveillance over concerns about his ideology”.
He travelled from Glen Eden to New Lynn closely watched by surveillance teams and tactical teams.
“When the commotion started, two police tactical operators moved to the scene and engaged him. When he approached with a knife he was shot and killed.
“The reality is when you are surveilling someone over 24 hour periods its not possible to be close to him all the time,” Coster said.
Ardern said there will be “multiple inquiries” into the incident.
Coster said police were unaware of any intent of Friday’s terrorist attack nor the extent of it.
“Based on our surveillance what we could tell is that he was undertaking what appeared to be a normal shopping expedition.
“However clearly we have been concerned about his ideology and that’s why he was under surveillance and with a company of tactical teams.
Coster said the man had been very “surveillance conscious and surveillance teams working with an offender over an extended period of weeks need to maintain sufficient distance for that surveillance to remain effective.
He said teams were “as close as possibly could be without compromising the surveillance operation”.
Ardern says suppression orders are in place over the man’s criminal history but says she’s preparing a timeline over “the man’s interactions with agencies and the law”.
“I think it’s in everyone’s best interest” to share that with you, Ardern said.
She said she was confident the man was a lone-wolf offender. She said he was known to “multiple agencies” and was “personally aware of him”.