147 gunshot victims in violent surge
Asurge in gun violence across Auckland has seen nearly 150 gunshot victims in hospital with serious injuries over four years.
The figures have been described as “staggering” by Manukau councillor Alf Filipaina — and an alarming indication of how many guns are circulating in the city.
He called on Aucklanders to stand up and take action to prevent further violence.
“Help us get these guns off the street.”
Simmering gang tensions and illicit drugs are responsible for much of the bloodshed, with more than a dozen shootings rocking South Auckland communities in the past 18 months alone.
At least four people have died and many more have been critically injured in the recent gun violence, sparking calls for a crackdown on organised crime — and a police plea for the public to stand against illegal activity.
Figures released to the Herald under the Official Information Act by the city’s three district health boards show 147 people have been treated for gunshot wounds since 2016. It cost taxpayers more than $2.6 million.
One of Auckland’s highestprofile shooting victims was Killer Beez gang president Josh Masters, gunned down at a Mt Wellington Harley Davidson store in April.
Masters was admitted to Auckland City Hospital in a critical condition. A 39-yearold man was charged with attempted murder.
There have been eight shootings this year alone in South Auckland, killing four people and critically injuring five others. The casualties included Joseph Siaosi, 23, who died on the lawn in front of his tara family home after being shot as he walked away from a confrontation.
The frightening sequence of violence has rocked the community, sparking calls for police to crack down on gangs. In May Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said most of the shootings were gang- and drug-related.
Filipaina, a former police officer, said the level of violence was among the worst he had seen in 60 years.
He was shocked by the hospitalisation figures and planned to raise the issue with the Auckland police district commander, senior police staff and Goff.
Help us get these guns off the street. Alf Filipaina, Manukau councillor
“Those stats are staggering. This gives an indication of the weapons, the guns, that are in our community and being used,” Filipaina said. “This gives our community the hard facts because you can’t hide from them. It’s reality. This is what’s happening.”
He said the level of violence demonstrated why new rapid response armed police teams were vital to community safety. The teams are being trialled in Canterbury, Waikato and South Auckland.
It also comes amid an overhaul of gun laws in response to the March 15 Christchurch mosque attacks, in which 51 people were shot dead.
Counties Manukau Detective Inspector Tofilau Faa Va’aelua acknowledged the alarming trend.
Arrests had been made in each of the homicide cases and firearms recovered, he said. Police had also arrested suspects for other non-fatal shootings and recovered more guns.
“We acknowledge these incidents may be concerning for our community, but we reiterate that there has been a substantial amount of investigative work . . . into these matters.
“Police have found a number of cases allegedly involved an element of organised crime.
“While police do our part, we cannot tackle the issue of organised crime, firearms and violence alone.”
Va’aelua urged the public to speak up, take a stand and report illegal activity.
Counties Manukau DHB has seen the lion’s share of victims, its gun injury figures reveal.
Police . . . cannot tackle . . . organised crime, firearms and violence alone.
Detective Inspector Tofilau Faa Va’aelua, Counties Manukau police
Since 2016, Middlemore Hospital has treated 79 patients with firearms injuries — 44 of them since January last year.
Legs and feet were the most commonly injured (25 patients), followed by head, neck, shoulder and face (20), hands (12), arms (9) abdominal (6), chest (4) and back (3).
The total cost of treating shooting victims at Middlemore has jumped significantly in recent years.
Of the $1.33 million costs incurred since 2016, more than $1m was since the start of last year — most of it in the past 11 months.
Meanwhile, Auckland DHB has treated 61 firearms victims since 2016, costing $1.3m — nearly all of that in the past two years.
Victims suffered injuries to their eyes, thigh, testicles, chest, abdomen, arm, ear and face, with an average treatment cost of $24,000 per patient.
Waitemata¯ DHB treated just eight firearms victims during the same period at Waitakere and North Shore hospitals.
Counties Manukau DHB chief executive Fepulea’i Margie Apa told the Herald that the South Auckland figures included shooting injuries from “assault” as well as “accidental” and “self-harm” incidents.
The DHB did not collect information on the types of firearms used, or the level of clinical severity.
However 13 of the 79 victims were admitted for more than five days — seven of them during this year.
“Emergency department specialists are trained to deal with all types of trauma, irrespective of cause. These cases are often managed in similar ways to other injuries causing damage to organs/tissue.”
Treatment costs varied depending on the injury location and severity, and the treatment needed.
Apa said the DHB worked with other agencies across South Auckland to promote healthy families and communities. She was not aware of any specific DHB-led initiatives dealing with gun violence.
The spate of shootings are seen as an alarming indication of how many guns are circulating in Auckland.