Police are hunting two gunmen who opened fire at an officer, shattering a patrol car windscreen early this morning.
The police officer is lucky to be alive after the incident in the Far North, which forced the closure of State Highway 11.
Police say around 4.13am today a car has pulled out in front of a police vehicle and stopped in the middle of the road on State Highway 11 near the Puketona Junction with State Highway 10.
Before the officer could get out of the patrol car, two men got out of their car and aimed guns at him, Northland district commander Superintendent Tony Hill said.
The officer immediately retreated but one shot was fired at the vehicle which shattered the windscreen.
The officer was not harmed andquickly left the scene and called for backup.
Police are now working to identify and locate the vehicle and men involved in this morning’s shooting.
Hill said it was a huge relief the policeman was not injured but the incident highlighted the unpredictability and danger of the job.
“It is completely unacceptable that someone would shoot at a police officer in this way and we are very lucky that they were not seriously injured or worse.
“We will be making every effort to locate these offenders and hold them to account. People need to remember that every day when our staff come to work, they leave behind their families.
“They do this to keep our communities safe and the last thing they deserve is to be shot at.”
A witness, Buck Lane, told the Herald he was driving through the area just before 6am when his vehicle was stopped by police.
“A police officer said there had been shots fired at the police,” he said.
“There was an assailant still at large.”
Earlier today NZTA said a “police incident” had closed State Highway 11 between Puketona Junction (SH10) and Haruru.
Another witness said he was driving along Puketona Rd, about 5.45am, when he noticed a police car parked on the side of the road and a work ute behind it.
The ute had its hazard lights on, he said.
“There was a guy behind it at the back of the ute. He was looking up and down the road.”
The witness, who asked not to be named, said it was only because he did not see a police officer and there were no flashing lights that he thought the scene looked odd.
The road worker was wearing an orange high-vis shirt, he said.
He said the two vehicles were parked not far from Broadspectrum – a local quarry.
By the time he had driven back, parts of the road had been closed off, the witness said.
Motorists in the area are being told to avoid the area.
“Please use SH1 and SH10 for journeys to (and) from Paihia,” NZTA said.
Meanwhile, some residents along Puketona Rd – inside the cordon – are locked inside their homes and are unable to leave for work.
They are waiting for word it is safe to venture out, one said.
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