A man suspected of killing two staff as well as injuring a third person at a Work and Income office (WINZ) has been arrested in Lake Hood near Ashburton. Locals in the area had been told to stay inside and avoid contact with the suspect following the shootings, as the police hunt continued for six hours.
The police reprimanded Russell John Tully on Monday after police dogs had chased down the 48-year-old as part of a dramatic police manhunt, which included the assistance of members of the New Zealand Defence Force. No shots were fired during the arrest, but Tully was reportedly treated for dog bites before being taken to custody.
Tully had become known locally only a month ago after giving a newspaper interview, in which he had detailed his struggles with homelessness and ill-health. It is believed that the former miner was disillusioned with the WINZ office for not finding him new employment and housing opportunities, according to local accounts.
Brendan Boyle, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development, confirmed that all three victims in the assault were employees of WINZ.
“We are all devastated by the deaths of two of our colleagues in the shocking attack. Our thoughts and prayer are also with the third victim who was being treated at an area hospital,”Boyle said.
Ashburton Mayor Angus McKay told The New Zealand Herald newspaper that the city was shocked by the events:
“It just hits home real hard,” he said.