This is obviously a breaking story and we don’t have all the details as yet but given the violence was directed at Office of Work and Income staff in Ashburton, New Zealand it already has PeakJobs implications. It also looks like the New Zealand government has responded to the threat by immediately closing down its Social Security offices in Canterbury (see second story). Via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. New Zealand shooting: Gunman kills two at government office in Ashburton, escapes on bicycle. Excerpt:
New Zealand police are hunting a gunman who killed two people in a social security office on the South Island before escaping on a bicycle. Police said a gunman wearing a balaclava entered the office of Work and Income in Ashburton, south-west of Christchurch, and opened fire. One person was killed and another died in hospital. A third person was injured and is in a serious but stable condition.
Police have named the suspect as 48-year-old John Henry Tully. It is believed the man was known to employees. He is understood to be on a disability pension, and reportedly told a local newspaper he had come home to die from an unidentified skin disease. Police have asked people to stay inside and government offices in surrounding towns have been closed.
Also via The New Zealand Herald. Police name John Henry Tully after two people shot dead at Ashburton Work and Income. Excerpt:
Winz shuts Canterbury offices
Meanwhile, police in New Plymouth are speaking to a man over a threatening phone call made to the city’s local Work and Income office earlier today. The Ministry of Social Development Chief Executive Brendan Boyle said all their offices in Ashburton, Timaru and Christchurch would be closed until further notice.
Mr Boyle said in a statement: “We are all shocked by the news of this morning’s incident at the Ashburton Work and Income office. “The Police are handling this serious situation. What I can say is that we will be there for our colleagues to support them as they come to terms with what has happened. “Until we know more, we have closed all Ministry of Social Development offices in Ashburton, Timaru and Christchurch.”
The Public Service Association (PSA) said the shooting was a tragedy. National secretary Richard Wagstaff said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy. “We don’t know what the cause is, but we will be supporting our members from Ashburton Work and Income at this terrible time.” That two people have died and one more is in a serious condition is inexcusable, and we hope the police can bring the shooter to justice. “Nobody should go to work in the morning without returning home that same day. “Our 6500 members working at Ministry of Social Development will have their Ashburton colleagues in their thoughts.”
More to follow as details come to hand.