TAURANGA – Bay of Plenty man Gary Dresden is being praised for his heroism after single-handedly ending the Tauranga siege last night.
The standoff between police and Tauranga resident Benjamin Gruber had entered its second day when Dresden stormed the house where Mr Gruber was holed up and killed him.
“I was just doing what anyone else in my position would have done,” said a smiling Dresden to reporters as he held up Mr Gruber’s severed head. “I’m not a hero.”
The police siege began early on Thursday morning when a raid on Mr Gruber’s house by two police officers went badly wrong. Details of what happened are still unclear, but witnesses report seeing Mr Gruber standing in his driveway waving a gun at the officers and shouting at them to get off his land.
Witnesses later heard a volley of shots. Both officers were killed. Police and armed offenders units quickly surrounded the house but were unable to retrieve the bodies of the fallen officers.
A bloodstained Mr Dresden told reporters he was on the internet when he heard about the incident. “I was on Kiwiblog and they were, like, going off about it. I was shocked. I started to get quite mad about this guy and what he had done.
“I thought about it for a while, and it seemed to me that the cops just didn’t have the tools to deal with the problem. No disrespect to them, they do a great job, but this guy was a piece of work.
“So I came up with a plan to deal with the problem. I had to be prepared. So I put on my DVD of Die Hard III and watched it. Then I got in the car and drove up to the police cordon with my hunting knife in my back pocket.”
Superintendent Steve Frew, the police commander at the scene, was initially sceptical about Dresden’s offer of help. “He was just some little guy who came up to us and said he could help,” explained Superintendent Frew. “He said he’d had enough of these crims and their guns, and that if we weren’t prepared to go in all guns blazing he would deal with it.
“I thought it was some kind of joke,” laughed the Superintendent, “I told him to move away from the cordon. The next thing I know all hell’s breaking loose.”
According to Dresden, he crept through the cordon and onto Mr Gruber’s back section. He found the back door unlocked and entered the house. “The gunman was sitting in his living room,” said Dresden. “He was surrounded by guns and ammo and explosives. I could see he wasn’t planning to come out alive.
“He turned around and saw me, and that’s when it all began. I remember the sound of gunfire as I dived out of the way. Then I rolled across the room, using the combat techniques I’d learned earlier that day. I kicked his feet from under him and he fell to the floor.”
But Gruber wasn’t about to give himself up, explained Dresden. “I leaped on him and waved my knife at him. I said ‘surrender!’ but he just kept yelling ‘you’ll never take me alive!’ He was a strong guy and he managed to heave himself off me. He was about to go for his gun when I stabbed him in the chest.”
Dresden’s work was not done, however. “I thought he was dead”, he laughed. “There was blood everywhere and he wasn’t moving. I stood over him to check, just to be sure. That’s when he grabbed my leg and pulled me on to him. It was lucky I still had my knife. I finished him off properly this time.”
Police say Mr Dresden’s intervention was timely and heroic. “It took a man, a special man,” said Superintendent Frew. “Gary was that man.”