News from NZ Police
Waikato Police say it may be a while before the motive behind this morning’s attack on a bank building in the town is clear.
Sergeant Vince Ranger of the Whangamata Police said officers were called to reports of a disturbance at the BNZ bank on Port Rd shortly after 10am.
“Officers arrived to find a number of windows at the bank had been smashed and a counter damaged by a man armed with what was described as an axe.
“No-one was injured in the attack and it does not appear that the offender’s intent was to rob the premises. A 53-year-old local man was arrested at the scene without incident and he is currently being interviewed by our staff.”
While the Police’s enquiry into what happened continues, Mr Ranger said officers are working with the bank to ensure those present received all the support they needed.
“In such situations Victim Support volunteers play a crucial role in ensuring victims are appropriately taken care of and a they are working with bank workers now as we speak.”
“Though the incident had caused a great deal of interest in the town it is important to note that emergency procedures in place for such situations worked as planned and Police were able to respond in a timely manner.”
UPDATE from NZ Police
While the offender at the centre of an incident at a Whangamata bank is still being interviewed this afternoon, investigators who have spoken to his victims say they now have a clearer picture of what occurred.
Detective Sergeant Martyn Hughes of the Thames-Coromandel CIB said four staff were in the Whangamata branch of the BNZ bank on Port Rd when a 53-year-old man armed with an axe entered the premises about 10.10am.
“Three staff were able to flee the building but one was not and remained in the store with the man who smashed a number of windows and the front counter. At this point in time we do not believe the man made any threats toward this staff member who was able to escape before the arrival of Police.
“It then appears a member of the public secured the front doors of the bank to prevent the offender escaping.”
Mr Hughes said that thanks to a number of calls to the 111 phone service, Whangamata Police were quickly aware of the situation and able to respond.
“As is standard procedures for such situations, officers responding were equipped with firearms. This is to ensure the safety of not only members of the public and our staff but also the offender as well.
“While such incidents in Whangamata are rare and likely to attract widespread attention, it is important to note that emergency plans established for such situations worked well.”