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Bravery award for hero of siege

By BERNARD CARPINTER - The Dominion Post
13 November 2009

Senior Constable Bruce Miller has no doubt Len Holmwood is a hero.

"A lot of people are grateful for his actions," said Mr Miller, one of three police officers shot by Napier gunman Jan Molenaar in May, and one of two who survived.

"He definitely did prevent further bloodshed that day, that's for sure."

Mr Holmwood has become the fourth recipient of the Bruce Butler Award, recognising his bravery when he grappled with his neighbour Molenaar while the gunman was shooting at police. Molenaar was found dead in his house after a 50-hour siege.

Senior Constable Len Snee was killed in the attack, and Mr Miller and Senior Constable Grant Diver suffered serious gunshot wounds.

Mr Holmwood was also shot, and spent several weeks in hospital recovering from the injuries he suffered while trying to disarm Molenaar. Walking with a slight limp but otherwise looking healthy, Mr Holmwood spoke briefly at yesterday's ceremony, attended by both Mr Miller and Mr Diver.

He said he had known Molenaar for several years but what happened that day came as a total surprise to him.

"I would like to thank family and friends who helped through the time of recovery," he said. "I'm just glad that two lives were saved that day."

He hoped that others in future would also be prepared to help people in trouble.

Mr Miller, who has not returned to work since he was shot, said it was "Len's day". "He definitely deserves the award for what he did that day."

Presented by Napier Neighbourhood Support, the award commemorates Bruce Butler, who went to the rescue of a woman who was being attacked by a man with a knife in the Napier suburb of Onekawa in 1998. Mr Butler was recovering from heart surgery at the time.

He needed 400 stitches but survived to live another 10 years, his daughter Lorraine Butler who presented the award to Mr Holmwood said. Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott read the citation.

The Bruce Butler Award has been presented to David Gibson, who rescued a woman from a burning house in 2000; Richard Croad, who stopped a knife-wielding man who was attacking a woman in 2001; and teenager Sharon Jordan, who rescued a six-year-old child who was being assaulted by a man in 2003.


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