News Zealand's police force is mourning the loss of an officer killed in the line of duty.
Police have named 46-year-old Sergeant Don Wilkinson, of Waimauku in West Auckland as the officer who was shot dead during a covert operation targeting a clandestine P Lab in south Auckland.
The incident happened at 1.45am at an address in Hain Avenue, Mangere. Wilkinson and another officer were on the property as part of an operation which was targeting a suspected methamphetamine operation.
The plain clothes officers were installing a tracking device in a vehicle when they were disturbed by two offenders from inside the house. The men got into a vehicle and pursued the officers for 75 metres down the road.
"Two people came out from the Hain Ave address, got into a vehicle and pursued the officers who were on foot," says Superintendent Ted Cox.
Wilkinson, who was not wearing a bullet proof vest, was then shot in the chest. His 44-year-old colleague was beaten and shot twice and was wearing a stab resistant vest.
The injured officer was taken to Middlemore Hospital by ambulance. He is now recovering in hospital after urgent surgery.
Following the shooting police raided the nearby house, which the offenders went into after the shooting. A 15-year-boy and an 11 month-old-baby were in the house.
Police had been interviewing two men over the incident, and announced arrest had been made at a press conference at 11:30am.
One man has been charged with murder and the other with assault. Both have been remanded in custody.
Police believe the men arrested in connection with the murder of Wilkinson did not know he was an officer.
"As this was a covert operation we don't know yet whether they identified themselves as police officers, but I can't think of any reason to pursue and shoot anybody in this manner," says Cox.
He losing a staff member in these circumstances is his worst nightmare come true.
"It's an absolute tragedy to lose an officer and have another so seriously threatened in this way," he says.
Both officers were part of the Technical Support Unit which works covertly alongside the Clandestine Laboratory Team.
Neither the injured or killed officer was armed during the operation but there were five other armed officers positioned a block away as support. However, police say the situation unfolded so quickly that they were unable to intervene to help their colleagues.
"Within a matter of seconds they simply had to drive around the block looking for our people and unfortunately came across the situation of one officer deceased on the scene and the other badly injured," says Cox.
Cox said a full risk assessment had been done by Police on the property and the people being targeted in the operation and there was nothing to indicate any undue risk to staff.
He said there was no public safety issue around the tragedy as it was a targeted operation at a specific address for a specific reason.
An officer mourned
Wilkinson is the 28th police officer to die in the line of duty in New Zealand, and his death has sent shockwaves throughout the police community.
Little is know about the 46-year-old sergeant and that's just the way the police prefer it, for those of their staff who work in the covert technical support unit.
Wilkinson had served nine years with the police. A single man who lived in west Auckland, neighbours say they knew him by a wave and little more.
As for the men who had sent him to Hain Street to plant a tracking device, who had signed off the risk assessments; who said that a team of seven officers was enough for a dangerous job; they admit that in hind sight the risk was far higher.
"If we knew there were weapons in the house we would have approached it entirely differently," says Cox.
Relative and colleagues are left shaken by his killing, and are feeling the loss acutely.
"The sense of vulnerability that the loss of a colleague will bring to each officer, the knowledge that there is risk in being a member of the police and that it can happen unexpectedly," says Howard Broad, Police Commissioner.
The Prime Minister has expressed her sympathies for the officer's family.
"The officer last night was on duty and was killed by a criminal that will go severely punished and my thoughts are with his family," Clark said.