The violence is shocking: New Lynn residents feel unsafe after spate of shootings

Residents in the Auckland suburb of New Lynn are feeling increasingly unsafe after a spate of shootings rocked the community in recent months.

A man was shot and killed, two others left fighting for their lives in hospital and residents left shaken from a home invasion following a string of firearm incidents in October and November.

“The violence around here is really shocking. I didn’t expect New Lynn to be like this,” said a resident who moved into the area in January.

“The shooting this week, that was our neighbour. It was literally right next to us, police were everywhere. It was pretty hectic, pretty crazy.”

A woman is recovering in hospital in a critical condition after receiving a shot in her stomach at a Trojan Cres home in the early hours of Monday morning.

A man has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, but an investigation remains ongoing.

“[Police] arrived in silence, no sirens were on,” said the resident, who the Herald has agreed not to name.

“They all had guns, I’d say at least 15 police officers with big rifles. They were everywhere. Some were in the bushes, some in the neighbour’s yard.”

Another incident at the same property around a month earlier also attracted armed officers, the resident claimed.

Meanwhile, father-of-two Robert James Hart was shot and killed in broad daylight on a driveway on Great North Rd, just metres away from next-door motel staff who were cleaning at the time.

Four people have been arrested and charged with his murder on November 5.

In October, five Head Hunters gang members were arrested after a shooting on Astley Ave which left a man seriously injured.

Two weeks later on the same street, a man allegedly brandished a sawn-off shotgun in a terrifying home invasion involving five others.

But New Lynn MP Deborah Russell said residents’ fear is misplaced.

“Of course I’m worried when there’s a firearms incident but I don’t think that crime is on the increase and I am confident that our police can deal with this and keep people safe.

“I want people to feel confident that they’re safe, and I think they are safe. It’s just unsettling.”

Russell said it was reassuring to be told by police that the string of alleged shootings involved people who were known to each other, and they “weren’t just random incidents” that involved “ordinary locals”.

“It’s horrid to see this kind of violence but it’s not directed at everyone, it is within a small group of people.”

Another resident, who has lived in New Lynn all her life, said she often sees patched Head Hunter gang members on her street.

She believes they are responsible for firearms incidents in the area.

“It’s business as usual. It’s becoming the norm. It sucks. In the last three months it’s gone stupid.”

The resident said she has participated in public meetings on the issue, and written letters to police.

“I don’t feel that someone is going to shoot me, not yet. The solution has to be to get rid of the gangs and the drugs.”

Police said they acknowledge recent firearms incidents will be concerning.

“The public will have seen a determined investigative effort in recent months to hold individuals to account,” said Detective Inspector John Sutton, Waitematā CIB.

“Police would like to reassure the community that the incidents that have occurred were not random events.

“There has been a higher police visibility around these areas as a result of incidents.”

Statistics from the New Lynn police station show there have been 14 offenders linked to prohibited and regulated weapon and explosive offences in the 12 months ending in September. Three offenders were aged between 11 and 17.

Whau local board chairwoman Kay Thomas acknowledges there has been “tension and uneasiness” among residents, and said they are right to be concerned.

“It certainly appears there has been an increase in violent crime involving guns.”

But she said the police response has been appropriate and the local board is also supporting security measures, such as funding Waitākere Pacific Wardens.

“In one area, the Rosebank area, the local board, police and Business Association are working together on a crime prevention strategy.

“We can look at whether it is possible to extend things like that.”

Meanwhile Russell said the Government is establishing a firearms registry and a new firearms police unit.

She said new legislation is intended to be introduced by the end of this year to “bolster the law around firearms”.

“We’ll be keeping a registrar of all firearms and if someone is using a firearm, they’re going to have to have their firearms licence with them and be able to demonstrate the firearm is their firearm and not someone else’s.

“In the shorter term, I want people in New Lynn to know if they’re worried about firearms near them, they can talk to police and they should go ahead and do that.”

But local residents also want to see more support and preventative measures offered in the community.

A Trojan Cres resident acknowledges that police can’t patrol the area constantly.

“It’s not like they’re here 24 hours. They just drive past and maybe in the next minute I could get shot.

“If the community had more support, more care for each other, more tutoring for our youth, who are in more unfortunate situations.”

Police would like to reassure the community that the incidents that have occurred were not random events.

They continue to ask for information about those illegally in possession of firearms.

Information can be provided to police by calling 105, visiting your local station or calling Crime Stoppers anonymous on 0800 555 111.

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