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M Violence and offensive language
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M Violence and offensive language
Darren Young, Joel Tobeck, Mark Mitchinson
On the 7th of May 2009 Senior Constables Len Snee, Grant Diver and Bruce Miller arrived at 41 Chaucer Rd in Napier to serve a search warrant on Jan Molenaar for the growing of cannabis. It was a day like any other and this was just a routine warrant, something they had done countless times. What was meant to be an ordinary procedure turned into three of New Zealand's darkest days and ended with one police officer dead, two officers critically injured and a member of the public fighting for his life.
Molenaar was a relatively unknown small-time grower and cannabis dealer who was also a gun enthusiast. He was also considered to be a loving partner and stepfather, and also had the reputation of being an anti-gang vigilante. Inexplicably and unexpectedly he reacted with murderous rage when he returned home to find police in his house. Taking up one of his illegal firearms, he shot and killed Len Snee, critically wounded both Diver and Miller before shooting his friend, Lenny Holmwood, who had come to the aid of the injured police.
Heavily armed with illegal weapons and homemade explosive devices, Molenaar held siege at Chaucer Road waging a violent armed assault upon the police, his neighbours, and indeed the entire suburb of Hospital Hill, Napier, firing more than 127 bullets in all directions over a period of 53 hours.
The city came to a standstill as scores of residents had to be evacuated and others were trapped in nearby houses fearing for their lives as police tried negotiating with the gunman. Houses hundreds of metres away from Molenaar's home were riddled with bullets, some travelling as far as two kilometres away. Several of these shots missed people by inches, and it was a miracle that more people were not injured or killed. Napier Police fired only two shots during the entire siege, and did this only when Molenaar was spotted about to directly fire on police. Except for this incident they could not see the gunman and all they could do was cordon and contain him and try to make contact so they could negotiate a solution while trying to get others safely out.
In some fifty hours Jan Molenaar made a permanent and devastating imprint upon the national psyche of New Zealand as he changed the lives of individuals, families, a police community, and a city. The siege was one of the worst and unexpected cases of violence both Napier and New Zealand had witnessed and it was all the more shocking because of its ordinary suburban backdrop. It brought fear into the very homes where people felt the most safe.
Siege is based on police files, statements and reports, the incident enquiry and coroner's investigation, and the eyewitness accounts of people who were at the scene. It tells the extraordinary stories of those who stood up and risked their lives to save others, both the police and civilian members of the community who found themselves faced with having to risk their own lives to save others. Citizens who had to become heroes.
During the siege, the media coverage of what was happening was so confused and ill-informed that no one could really tell what was going on and, certainly, no-one, either at the time or since, has been able to fully access the hows and whys and details of what happened.
The public interest during the 50-hours was nationwide. New Zealanders stopped in their tracks to watch on TV or catch the ongoing saga on the radio. Police from all over the country raced to help. This story made news around the world. It is the real story told accurately and reverently. It is emotional and confronting and the story of many unexpected heroic actions and the heroic capacity of ordinary people.