New Zealand Shooting
Alan Gibson  /  AP
Policemen are fitted with bulletproof vests Friday at the scene of a standoff in Napier, New Zealand,following a deadly shooting that left at least one dead and three wounded.
updated 5/8/2009 9:32:20 PM ET 2009-05-09T01:32:20

A loud explosion and gunshots rang out early Saturday at the home of a man who has held New Zealand police at bay for more than two days after allegedly killing an officer.

Police said the blast was set to gain access to the house in the North Island city of Napier, part of which has been largely shut down since the standoff began early Thursday.

Former army reservist Jan Molenaar, 51, fired a fusillade of shots from an automatic rifle at police who arrived Thursday morning to search the house for cannabis. Two other officers were seriously wounded, along with a bystander who was shot while wrestling with the gunman.

Police offered no immediate explanation for Saturday's blast and gunshots at the house in the North Island city of Napier, which has been largely shut down since the standoff began.

Officers dismissed local media reports that Molenaar had been killed or hurt.

Superintendent Sam Hoyle said while police had not heard from Molenaar for several hours, they were assuming he was still "alive and dangerous" as the siege entered its third day.

"We are mindful that he has played possum with us in the past," he said, adding that specialist equipment capable of detecting explosives would be used to examine the house for possible booby traps before entry.

After volleys of gunfire kept police from retrieving their colleague's body for more than a day, officers opened fire from armored personnel carriers Friday to retrieve the body.

"We are pleased for the family that we are able to bring him out — it has been a traumatic and immensely difficult time for them," Hoyle said.

Rare police shooting
Late Friday night, police also rescued "very much alive" a police dog, named Fi, that had been trapped inside a police van since the shooting began, police said in a statement.

One of two wounded police officers and the civilian remained in critical condition, while the second wounded officer was stable and out of critical care, Napier hospital said.

Hoyle has said police prefer to wait out the gunman rather than storm the house.

Intermittent negotiations with Molenaar have been tense, and he allegedly fired on police "dozens of times," Hoyle said.

"We are dealing with a very complex character and, as you might expect in negotiations going on for this amount of time, he goes through various mood swings," he told reporters.

Hundreds of residents of the port city remained cut off from their homes, and local businesses and three nearby schools remained closed.

New Zealand is among few countries in the world where police routinely do not carry guns. The officer shot dead was the 29th killed on duty in New Zealand since 1890.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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