Caught on CCTV: Brawl spills into Rotorua liquor store

Security video has captured a brawl that spilled into a Rotorua liquor store involving people kicking, punching, swearing and knocking over store items.

A store worker armed himself with a wooden stick and screamed repeatedly at the group to get out while a customer was holed up in the store’s chiller.

The worker has told the Rotorua Daily Post that dealing with violent incidents while working in retail had unfortunately become a regular occurrence as people’s behaviour got worse and the number of homeless people in Rotorua increased.

The CCTV footage, given to the Rotorua Daily Post by the store’s owner on the condition that the store is not identified, shows the brawl erupting on Thursday at 8.16pm.

The store worker and a customer went into the chiller to look for a product when a man ran into the store backwards trying to defend himself as he was being kicked and punched repeatedly by three men.

A woman came to the man’s aid and tried to kick and punch one of the men. The man being attacked ran behind the store’s counter, knocking over items in the ruckus.

A second woman charged into the store trying to tackle one of the three men. Throughout the brawl the women can be heard swearing at the three men.

The store worker, armed with a wooden stick he had behind the counter, got the three men out after 45 seconds by yelling swear words at them to get out.

One of the women, who stayed inside the store to catch her breath after the brawl, is heard on the CCTV footage saying the three men had just run over the man being attacked, whom she described as being her “cousin” and “brother”.

She said he was homeless, lived in a motel and was not from Rotorua.

“‘We’ve just come from the motel … They ran my brother over, that’s why we ran here for help … He got run over by those three f****** little b*******, all because we’re trying to live … All we were doing was walking down the street and we get attacked.”

Rotorua police said they were not called to the incident but minutes earlier had dealt with a separate, unrelated incident nearby involving a woman ramming a taxi with a shopping trolley.

The store worker told the Rotorua Daily Post he thought police had been called, so he did not call them.

The 26-year-old had worked in retail since he left secondary school and said violent incidents such as this had become common in the past couple of years as a result of tough economic times caused by the pandemic.

He said the homeless in Rotorua had made working in the store “colourful” but he didn’t get scared.

“I don’t come to work to be abused.”

He said he had learned to keep his cool and not resort to violence as it could prove dangerous, especially if there were customers in the store.

“If you get involved, it becomes a bigger issue and puts others at risk. There were six of them so the risk is being attacked by the lot of them.”

He said it was an odd situation because the brawl had nothing to do with the store. He usually dealt with shoplifters or drunks.

“It makes you wonder what you’re going to encounter in a day but sadly it’s part of retail now. Since Covid it is way worse – times are getting harder and attitudes are flying.”

The store owner told the Rotorua Daily Post he was proud of the way his staff member handled the incident.

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