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Wairoa gangs go to war

Published: 6:46AM Saturday October 30, 2010 Source: NZPA

  • A Mongrel Mob patch
    A Mongrel Mob patch

Police and the armed offenders squad will be out in force in the northern Hawke's Bay town of Wairoa tonight, following the second gang-related shooting within five days.

A 48-year-old Mongrel Mob member man was shot twice with a shotgun, once in the back and once in the side, as he pumped fuel into his vehicle at a service station on the main road last night.

The gunman ran off after the shooting.

The attack appeared to be a retaliation for another shooting on Monday night, where a 17-year-old Black Power member was shot in the chest outside Mongrel Mob headquarters.

Wairoa, which has a population of about 8500 with about half living in the town itself, has been the scene of a number of gang shootings this year. In August a man was shot in the face during an all-in violent brawl which saw 24 people arrested and the month before another gang member was shot in the face.

Sergeant Aubrey Ormond of Wairoa police said Wairoa was not in the middle of a gang war but last night's shooting was essentially retaliation for Monday night's "drunken escapade by the victim's lot".

Police have not yet made any arrests or found a weapon but have searched properties, he said.

They are yet to speak to the victim, who came out of surgery overnight and was making good progress towards recovery, Ormond said.

This afternoon had been quiet but police are preparing for the violence to possibly escalate tonight and armed offenders and extra police staff are in the town tonight, he said.

Ormond said the shooting, in broad daylight and on a busy forecourt, was a "brazen, foolish, stupid act."

Police are not telling people to stay home in Wairoa tonight.

"Life goes on but we will be here in force."

There had been shootings in Wairoa in the past, some fatal, but the frequency of the latest shootings are a worry, Ormond said.

Why more firearms are being used is "the million dollar question", he said.

Police have spoken to the gang leaders but "we are achieving things with them, but you have to take into account who they are and what their agenda is".

Action against gangs

Meanwhile, Wairoa mayor Les Probert said the latest shooting is the catalyst for the town to do something about the gangs.

"Mainly it's fighting each other in their own pads, but now this is an entirely different situation. It took place at a service station on a Friday afternoon. It's an act of absolute stupidity and we are not going to put up with it.

"It could have been a real catastrophe."

The violence has escalated over the last few months, he said.

"These gangs are always at each other and it's one-upmanship. I am not sure if it's the younger ones or the older ones but whoever it is, we don't care now and we are going to deal with it."

It could involve something like Wanganui's gang patch ban, if that was practical.

"We will take it as far as we can. I am not sure what we can do, there may be legislation, maybe more police."

Police were doing a good job but could not be everywhere all the time, Probert said.

Over the years authorities have spoken with the gangs and could meet with them again, he said.

"We have got these two gangs, one of each side of the river and of course it doesn't matter what agreement you come to with one of them, if another drives past and fires a gun then there's retaliation."

Probert said the gangs generally fought each other on their own patches and locals said it's not a gang town.

"It's a good town, it's a very safe town. It happens in Flaxmere, Christchurch, Auckland but in a small town like Wairoa it's more obvious."