Manhunt on in NZ after fatal attack on Aussie tourist

WELLINGTON • A manhunt was under way in New Zealand yesterday after an Australian tourist was killed following what the police believe was a random attack on the van that he and his partner were sleeping in.

The police said the couple were parked at a scenic spot near the coastal town of Raglan when a suspect approached their van just after 3am yesterday (11pm Thursday, Singapore time).

Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley told the media that the suspect fired a number of shots into the van, injuring the Australian tourist. His partner managed to escape and she later called the police.

Mr Pitkethley said the suspect then stole the van and drove away with the injured man still inside.

The police found the van at 8am about 75km away in the village of Gordonton with the 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 subjected to further violence.

"This is a tragic incident," said Mr Pitkethley, adding that the police were supporting the woman, who was "very shocked and distressed".

He said it was understandable that people were worried that the suspect remained armed and had not been found. "I want to reassure the public that we are working hard to identify and locate the offender. It is our absolute priority."

The police deployed Swat-style teams to the scene and all the police officers in the region began carrying guns as a precaution.

The New Zealand police typically do not carry guns on routine patrols, keeping them stored in their cars instead.

The police deployed Swat-style teams to the scene and all the police officers in the region began carrying guns as a precaution. The New Zealand police typically do not carry guns on routine patrols.

The police did not immediately identify the victim, although New Zealand media said he was 33-year-old Mr Sean McKinnon and the woman who escaped was his 32-year-old Canadian fiancee.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Mr McKinnon grew up in the town of Warrnambool, about 250km south-west of Melbourne, and that friends remembered him as a talented musician who liked to surf big waves.

Raglan is known as one of New Zealand's top surf destinations.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2019, with the headline 'Manhunt on in NZ after fatal attack on Aussie tourist'. Print Edition | Subscribe