Tourist shot dead in camper van in seemingly random attack in New Zealand

Killer stole vehicle and fled with body inside, police say

Emma Snaith
Friday 16 August 2019 09:24
Comments
Police collect evidence in the car park of the Te Toto Gorge lookout outside Raglan, New Zealand, where a man was shot dead in a camper van
Police collect evidence in the car park of the Te Toto Gorge lookout outside Raglan, New Zealand, where a man was shot dead in a camper van

An Australian tourist has been found shot dead inside a camper van in what police believe was a random attack outside a popular New Zealand surfing town.

The man and his partner were sleeping in the van which was parked near a scenic spot in the coastal town of Raglan when a suspect approached their vehicle just after 3am on Friday.

The attacker demanded the key to the couple’s camper van before shooting the Australian, police said. His partner managed to run away and called the police.

The suspect then stole the van and drove away with the injured tourist still inside.

Police found the van at 8am about 46 miles away in the village of Gordonton with the dead body of the Australian inside.

It was not immediately clear if the man had died from the wounds he received in the initial attack or had been subject to further violence.

Police did not immediately identify the victim although New Zealand media said he was 33-year-old Sean McKinnon and the woman who escaped was his 32-year-old Canadian fiancé.

A manhunt has been launched in the Waikato region to find the male suspect and all local police officers have been ordered to carry their guns until the man is caught.

"This is a tragic incident," Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said. "I want to reassure the public that we are working hard to identify and locate the offender. It is our absolute priority."

He said police were supporting the woman, who was "very shocked and distressed."

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Mr McKinnon grew up in the town of Warrnambool, about 155 miles southwest of Melbourne, and that friends remembered him as a talented musician who liked to surf big waves.

Wayne Such told the newspaper that Mr McKinnon was a "genuine, gentle man with a heart of gold."

Gun-related homicides are very rare in New Zealand and thousands of tourists choose to park their camper vans on the side of roads every year.

In the wake of the Christchurch shootings, police launched the country's first gun "buyback" with over 200 prohibited firearms handed over to the state.

Additional reporting by AP

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in