WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A manhunt in New Zealand Wednesday prompted schools to close and put several towns on edge after police said a group of five suspects shot at them and stole a police car before disappearing.
No officers were injured during the incident on the central North Island.
Police said they started chasing a car at 2:30 a.m. near the town of Whanganui. They say they tried to stop the vehicle an hour later near the town of Ohakune but the suspects rammed a police car.
One of the suspects then fired shots at two officers from close range, according to police, before the group stole the police car. Police said they later recovered their vehicle and that none of their weapons had been taken from it.
Several schools in the area elected not to open Wednesday. Such violence is rare in New Zealand.
Police identified one of the suspects as Dolphy Kohu, a man with a criminal history, and urged him to turn himself in.
The suspect's grandfather, Te Tawhero Dolphy Kohu, told Radio New Zealand he feared his grandson's actions had left police with little choice but to shoot him.
"Boy, I love you, just give yourself up, that's all," he said.
Police Superintendent Sue Schwalger told reporters the suspects included two men, two women and one other unidentified person, and that the group was continuing to actively evade police.
"I can reassure the community that we are leaving no stone unturned to find them as soon as possible," Schwalger said.
Police have set up checkpoints in the region and have been using a helicopter in their search.