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Barricade stand-off: Soldier found dead

Published: 10:39AM Friday October 05, 2012 Source: ONE News

A 23-year-old soldier who died during a four-hour stand-off at Linton Military Camp in Manawatu today had just broken up with his girlfriend, neighbours say.

The army soldier, believed to have been under the influence of alcohol, barricaded himself in a house in Linton Military Camp's private residential area.

Sergeant Graham Wehipeihana said police were called to the house on Inglis Way around 9.40am after reports of shots being fired.

Inspector David White said between 10am-2pm police tried to make contact with the soldier but received no response.

"Police subsequently deployed teargas to try to resolve the situation peacefully, but without success," White said.

White said shortly after 2pm police entered the address and unfortunately found the body of the 23-year-old. No one else was inside the house.

"While we are grateful that no one else has been hurt, we are deeply saddened that it has ended in this way," White said.

He said reports of shots being fired at around 1.15pm today were in fact gas canisters being placed into the house.

No shots were fired by police or at police during the incident, White said.

The inspector said next of kin had been notified, and police are currently with the family of the soldier.

"We are saddened that this has ended in tragedy and our thoughts and sympathies are with his family at this difficult time," White said.

Neighbours told ONE News that the soldier had recently broken up with his girlfriend who he had children with. Police and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) did not confirm this.

The 23-year-old is believed to have been drinking before he was picked up by a colleague from Palmerston North at 1am and taken back to the house.

White said he could not comment on whether the soldier was intoxicated, but that it would be part of the investigation into his death.

Family supported

Mayor Rob Loftus, the chief of staff of One Brigade, said the NZDF has been in complete support of the police operation.

"Our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of the soldier concerned at this difficult time.

"The NZ Army will be providing appropriate support to the family of the soldier."

The Defence Force confirmed that the soldier had not deployed overseas during his time with the New Zealand Army.

Loftus said the NZDF would launch an investigation into the death, which he says is common procedure.

Earlier today members of the Armed Offenders Squad were at the scene, along with police negotiators who tried to talk to the man.

A base commander from Linton camp and one other person had also tried to talk with the soldier in the house.

'Terrified' neighbours

Camp Road, which leads to the entrance of Linton Camp, was blocked off by armed police. Cars were being stopped from turning in to the road off Tennent Drive.

More than eight police cars were at the road block, with more inside the cordon.

Neighbour Raewynne Te Huia told ONE News: "I saw guys actually walking in front of the house with guns, saw a couple of soldiers, but it wasn't until I looked back, down our street that I realised it was more serious than what I thought because all the roads had actually been blocked off by police cars."

Another neighbour, Gwen Brady, said it was "overwhelming and terrifying" seeing the Armed Offenders Squad.

Brady said this week the soldiers got paid and this "tends to mean a night on the booze".

It is not known if the solider was using a personal or Army-owned gun.

The death has been referred to the Coroner.

Police are not looking for anyone in connection with the death.