Otago Daily Times

Para­medic re­mem­bers mo­ment gun­fire started

- DAISY HUD­SON daisy.hud­son@odt.co.nz Crime · Incidents · New Zealand · Otago · Dunedin · Christchurch · Aramoana · David Gray · Armed Offenders Squad

WHEN­EVER Doug Flett brings his chil­dren to Aramoana, he al­ways takes a mo­ment to stop and pay his re­spects at a spe­cial memo­rial.

It re­minds him of a hor­ror day in 1990 when he was called to the site of one of New Zealand’s worst shoot­ings.

He is one of dozens of first re­spon­ders who will gather this week­end to mark the 30th an­niver­sary of David Gray’s mas­sacre at Aramoana.

Mr Flett (58), now a St John in­ten­sive care para­medic work­ing on the Otago Res­cue He­li­copter, had not long fin­ished his shift as a sta­tion of­fi­cer in Dunedin on Novem­ber 13, 1990, when his phone rang.

It was a St John com­mu­ni­ca­tions staff mem­ber, ask­ing him to go back to work ur­gently as an in­ci­dent was un­fold­ing.

At the am­bu­lance sta­tion, he and an­other sta­tion of­fi­cer were told there had been a house fire and a shoot­ing in Aramoana.

Mr Flett drove the se­cond am­bu­lance that was sent to the scene.

He re­mem­bered the am­bu­lance be­ing quickly over­taken in the wind­ing Aramoana Rd by two po­lice cars con­tain­ing mem­bers of the

Armed Of­fend­ers Squad.

He parked the am­bu­lance at a safe ar­rival point set up near a row of cribs near the en­trance to the set­tle­ment.

By that point, the first am­bu­lance had al­ready picked up one vic­tim.

He did not know how se­ri­ous the si­t­u­a­tion was.

‘‘We could see smoke, from the house fire. We didn’t know num­bers at that stage.’’

Then the gun­fire started.

He later learned that was David Gray shoot­ing at po­lice of­fi­cers who had gone in to res­cue Chris Cole, who had been shot.

They were quickly told to re­lo­cate to nearby Te Ngaru.

‘‘When the shoot­ing started, the whole mood just changed. You know, ‘this is for real’.’’

Then a po­lice van came scream­ing up the road, a door half hang­ing off.

In­side were two of­fi­cers and the in­jured Mr Cole, ly­ing across their knees.

The am­bu­lance staff quickly got him on to a stretcher, dis­cov­er­ing he was con­scious but badly wounded. He would later die in hos­pi­tal. Mr Flett had been in the job for six years at that point, and had never seen any­thing like it.

Thirty years on, even af­ter re­spond­ing to events such as the

Christchur­ch earth­quakes, it still stands out.

‘‘It was very, very tragic thing that hap­pened.’’

He thought it would never hap­pen in New Zealand again — un­til the Christchur­ch ter­ror at­tack.

The gun leg­is­la­tion passed as a re­sult was long over­due, he said.

‘‘It was just a no­brainer.’’

 ?? PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON ?? Taking stock . . . St John in­ten­sive care para­medic Doug Flett pays his re­spects at a memo­rial to the vic­tims of the Aramoana mas­sacre, which he re­sponded to in 1990.
PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON Taking stock . . . St John in­ten­sive care para­medic Doug Flett pays his re­spects at a memo­rial to the vic­tims of the Aramoana mas­sacre, which he re­sponded to in 1990.

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