Friday, 03 July 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Assaults in Whitianga sparked by gang rivalry

The police have confirmed that gang rivalry was behind a series of violent incidents in Whitianga late last week, including the assault of two police officers.

Three people were due to be charged in Hamilton District Court on Monday this week in relation to the attack on the police, with two members of the public credited for preventing further injury to the officers.

Whitianga police sergeant, Andrew Morrison, described the escalation of events after a man who had been living in the town for some months wore his gang vest while out with a couple of friends on Friday morning. “Another local man associated with a rival gang, and wearing colours to indicate this, crossed paths with these men and there was a physical confrontation in Albert Street. Numerous punches were thrown, with one punch connecting before the second man’s partner pulled him away from the altercation,” Sergeant Morrison said. The incident was reported to the police at around 11:30am.

“On return from Whenuakite, the on-duty constable spoke to both sides of the altercation and advised an investigation would be completed,” Sergeant Morrison said. “A short while later the man in his vest and a friend crossed paths again with the rival at Brophy’s Beach and another altercation occurred during which a woman was threatened and chased, and a man was driven into and knocked to the ground.

The police are still investigating this incident and no charges had been laid as of Monday.

However, the trouble continued on Saturday morning when the police received a report at around 10:00am of a disturbance at a residential property in central Whitianga. “On Saturday, a car load of young men parked opposite the vest wearer’s home and a physical confrontation occurred,” Sergeant Morrison said. “The car then left the scene and when the police arrived, their attempts to calm the situation were met with verbal abuse.

“A vehicle associated with the altercation was stopped on Monk Street and the occupants assaulted the two constables. Thankfully, two local men came to police assistance and the offenders were arrested. We were then assisted by colleagues from Thames, Whangamata and Waihi, with both sides of the altercations given some direct advice.”

Arising from the assault on the officers, a 26-year-old local woman was to be charged with assaulting police, breach of bail and obstructing police. An 18-year-old local woman was to be charged with assaulting police, resisting police and obstructing police, while a 22-year-old local man was facing charges including assaulting police and escaping custody.

Sergeant Morrison said the events of both days were still being investigated and further arrests were anticipated. “This behaviour could be described as childish, idiotic and laughable, but you only have to look at incidents that have occurred in other parts of New Zealand in the past week that have resulted in young men losing their lives to appreciate the seriousness of this kind of behaviour,” he said. “People wanting to threaten or intimidate others in our community can expect to explain their actions in court.”

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