BOMB disposal experts have removed suspicious items from a van at the centre of a dramatic police pursuit through the Bay which ended when police shot a burglary suspect in Waihi.
The 19-year-old man underwent emergency surgery at Waikato Hospital last night and remains in a critical condition under police guard in the intensive care unit.
Police had administered first aid at the scene before the man, with chest injuries, was driven from Waihi to Paeroa to meet an air ambulance.
Armed police shot the man after he got out of the van and allegedly brandished a gun at officers.
One witness told the Bay of Plenty Times: "I heard the bang and the guy was flat, he just dropped."
During the chase, the suspect also allegedly shot at police, with one bullet hitting a police car.
The drama started when the Toyota Hiace - wanted in connection to a burglary at Ngongotaha about 12.30pm yesterday - was seen in Tauranga on Pyes Pa Rd, near Te Mata Rd.
The van was being driven by an 18-year-old woman who was eventually forced off the road by a police car after the man allegedly waved the gun out of the window in Waihi's main street.
The van finally came to a halt when it collided head on with a tree.
The man was then shot.
The woman was to appear in Tauranga District Court today facing a number of charges including burglary, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, dangerous driving and failing to stop. Investigators are still working to establish her role in events that took place.
The pursuit involved dog handlers from Tauranga and Rotorua, an incident car from Greerton and two cars carrying members of the Tauranga Armed Offenders Squad.
Outside the Fort Eliza restaurant - just south of Katikati - one of the cars carrying AOS members spun out in the wet. No one was injured and no other vehicles were involved.
The AOS officers got into another vehicle and rejoined the pursuit.
West of Waihi the alleged offender allegedly shot a hole in the bonnet of the Greerton incident car.
Despite running over police road spikes as she turned off SH2 into Gilmore Rd at Waihi the woman continued to drive for about two to three minutes with two flat tyres.
Linley Johannsen, who was working at Waihi Mitre 10 - close to where the van was stopped - witnessed the man get out of the van and said she saw five AOS members at the scene.
"I heard the bang and the guy was flat, he just dropped."
Fellow employee, Linda Lewis, said nine police cars went past the store, "pretty fast". "Apparently he was firing shots up the main street. "We did hear one shot," she said.
Stuart Nilsson and his son Sam were working at family business Classic Kitchens directly opposite the action.
"This guy got out of the van and he was holding the rifle towards the police.
"He put his arms up with the gun in it and got shot," said Mr Nilsson.
"We just opened the door. When I saw him with a gun I came back in a bit, within a few steps he could've been in here." Sam Nilsson, 21, said: "It was almost like he was going to shoot but then he saw the cops had their guns."
Acting Eastern Waikato Area commander, Inspector John Kelly, said the scene examination was continuing today and interviews with witnesses, both from within the police and members of the public.
"The road will remain closed probably till at least this afternoon, due to the time of day events unfolded and the fact that they involved the offending vehicle being driven around various streets of Waihi there are still a lot of people to be interviewed.
"An Explosives Ordnance Disposal team from the Defence Force arrived at the scene last night and removed a quantity of items the nature of which still have to be ascertained," said Mr Kelly.
An investigator from the Independent Police Conduct Authority is expected to arrive in Waihi this morning while around 20 staff have been assembled from throughout the Eastern Waikato and Hamilton.
New Zealand police communications spokesman James Whittaker said there would be counselling offered to the officer who shot the alleged offender.