Pera Ariki Smiler killed by police outside Upper Hutt McDonald’s ‘was an amazing guy’

September 9, 2015 11:13 am

 

Pera Smiler has been identified as the man shot dead by police in Upper Hutt. Photo / Supplied via Facebook

A man fatally shot by police outside McDonald’s in Upper Hutt has
been remembered as a “good kid” by a woman who “loved him like a son”.
Police have now officially confirmed the gunman’s identity, naming him as Pera Ariki Smiler.
Wellington police district commander Sam Hoyle said a post-mortem would be carried out tomorrow.
Police
were first called to the incident at McDonald’s restaurant in Upper
Hutt at 12:39pm, Tuesday afternoon, and our officers were on the scene
at 12:42pm.
“We are still sifting through hundreds of pieces of
information and dozens of witnesses who, as you can appreciate, can have
different accounts of the same event,” Mr Hoyle said.
“I have
reviewed the CCTV footage of the event this afternoon and remain
confident that my officers acted appropriately to keep the community
safe.

This has been a very upsetting time for the people of Upper
Hutt and I would like to reiterate my thanks to the members of the
public who are helping us with your enquiries and for your messages of
support.
“As our investigation is ongoing we will not be in a
position to release any further details in the coming days. We are
liaising closely with and providing support to the family of Mr Smiler.”
Smiler
was killed after reportedly firing his rifle inside the restaurant on
Main St and then brandishing the rifle in the street.
He
triggered the armed response after he fired two shots from a rifle while
walking along the Main St McDonald’s drive-through, and people began to
call 111.

Police attend the scene of a shooting which resulted in a fatality Upper Hutt. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
Police attend the scene of a shooting which resulted in a fatality Upper Hutt. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
Upper Hutt woman Sharon Leaf said she knew Smiler when he was at school, as her son was friends with him.
It was time for his close friends and family to grieve, she said.
“Basically,
he was a good kid and I loved him. I loved him like a son and I always
will regardless of what he’s done. I can’t really say much more,” she
told NZME Service.
“As far as I was concerned he was a good soul.
“I just want to do my grieving and get over it, which I’ll never do.”
People should not pass judgement on the man she last saw about nine years ago, when he was at high school, she said.
“He
had his reasons, I don’t know what they were, but he had his reasons
for what he did. It doesn’t stop me from loving him,” Ms Leaf said.
A
relative of Smiler’s who didn’t wish to be named said of him: “All I
know is that he was an amazing guy and it’s so sad how things have
turned out.”
She said she’d seen news stories online about
overseas police shooting where rubber bullets were used and that’s left
her thinking about whether that was a possibility in this case.
“It’s hard on them too,” she said of the police officers involved.
“Some of the people are saying he certainly didn’t want to hurt anyone, that’s why he told everyone to get away.”
The
Herald has learned that Smiler was before the courts charged with
benefit fraud. He had been scheduled to appear in the Hutt Valley
Distirct Court again tomorrow.
Court staff have confirmed that a
warrant to arrest Smiler was issued on June 2. The Ministry of Social
Development had laid the charge against him.
A spokesman from the
Ministry of Social Development said they could not comment or give out
any information regarding a specific person, unless that person gave
them permission to do so.
Meanwhile, tributes were flowing for the young man on social media.
One
of Smiler’s Facebook friends posted a picture of him and called him the
love of her life. “That’s my man he has now passed as of yesterday,”
she said. “He was the love of my life and the only man I wanted too grow
old with.”
Dahlia Smiler wrote on Facebook: “You have a heart of gold Pera Smiler.
“No-one know how behind those beautiful eyes there was a tortured sole. Rest easy [sic],” she said.
“To
all who are going through some issues right now – family problems,
health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just needs to know
that someone cares. I care.”
Jenny McKee replied to that: “Nice words, I’ve been there. Lost [a] child, it’s tough.”
According to his Facebook profile, Smiler appears to have been a fitness fanatic.
In
a post earlier this year he wrote: “Today I achieved a new pb [personal
best]. 160 kg squats for eight reps on last set. Stoked. On path for
180kg in June and 220kg December.”
In February, he wrote he was
participating in an “aroha noa initiative” where the first five people
to comment on his status with “I’m in” would receive a surprise from him
at some point this year.
“After all the recent terrible
tragedies that have happened and are happening, this world needs as much
kindness as it can get,” he wrote.
“Let’s do nice and loving
things in 2015, without any reason other than to make each other smile
and show that we think of each other. Here’s to [a] more enjoyable,
friendly, positive and love-filled year.”
A spokesman for the New Zealand Defence Force said it could not comment on reports that Smiler had applied to join the Army.
All enquiries relating to Smiler were being referred to police, the spokesman said.
The
police said they would not be confirming or releasing the gunman’s name
until later today, as his family has yet to formally identified him.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s is providing support to workers caught up in yesterday’s fatal shooting.
Michelle’s son was working in the store and had the loaded gun pointed at his face during the ordeal, she told Newstalk ZB.
The fast food giant was doing an amazing job with victim support, she said.
McDonald’s
had made it clear staff would be supported over the coming months
should anyone suffer post traumatic stress, she said.

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