Police said 54-year-old Artemiy Dubovskiy, also known as Troy, did not have a direct connection to the mosque gunman, as they revealed more details about the man and his death last week. Dubovskiy first came to police attention after sending troubling emails referencing the March 15 attacks, district police commander John Price said.
Based on a tip, police searched three of Dubovskiy's properties and found guns, ammunition and violent extremist content. Police located Dubovskiy in a vehicle around 12:30 a.m. on March 27 and negotiated with him for three hours before approaching the vehicle and finding him with a mortal stab wound. They also found a knife.
"Based on the nature of the items located during the search warrant, the nature of what he said to police during the negotiation, and subsequent enquires, police are of the view that Mr. Dubovskiy did pose a significant threat to the community," Price, the Canterbury District Commander, said in a statement.
Price said they weren't able to say more about the nature of that threat because they were still investigating two more people and releasing details could jeopardize the investigation. Some friends and family members expressed concerns about bruising on Dubovskiy's face.
Price said police officers had "forcibly extracted" Dubovskiy from the vehicle around 3:40 a.m., during which time he had also been bitten by a dog and scraped, which would have caused the bruising. Price said officers dragged the man to safety before crews unsuccessfully provided first aid. He said the actions of police were being investigated, although his preliminary view was that the officers acted in a courageous way in a potentially high-threat situation.
Dubovskiy's father, Vlad Dubovskiy, told the New Zealand Herald that he and his son moved to New Zealand from Russia in 1997. The father said his son was fanatical about weapons and military history and had a collection of Nazi memorabilia.
Vlad Dubovskiy told the newspaper that his son was simply a collector and never indicated he was going to use his guns, which included a modified semiautomatic weapon. The Herald reported that Dubovskiy had several previous convictions, including two following a 1999 burglary of a Russian couple he knew, according to court documents.
When the couple returned home, Dubovskiy, who was wearing a balaclava, pointed a replica German pistol at them, before the couple escaped, the Herald reported. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
The newspaper reported that Dubovskiy acknowledged in a police statement at the time that he was the intruder but said he couldn't recall all the details because he was drunk.