Fiance’s half-hour of terror after Aussie’s NZ murder
An Australian tourist travelling New Zealand with his fiance was shot twice at point blank range by a crazed gunman as they slept in their campervan while freedom camping.
Musician Sean McKinnon, 33, was blasted with bullets as his horrified girlfriend screamed in terror inside their van parked at the rugged Te Toto Gorge lookout, near Raglan, two hours south of Auckland.
Canadian-born Bianca, 32, managed to scramble free as the gunman ordered her to hand over the keys to the hired van and hid, trembling, in bushland for almost half an hour, until the attacker drove off with her fiance inside.
When the coast was clear, Bianca, a midwife living in Auckland, fled barefoot for 2kms using the full moonlight to guide her in the dark until she could raise the alarm at around 3.20am on Friday.
Police say she is understandably "shocked" and "distressed" and receiving counselling.
"She was terrified, somehow she climbed out of the van and hid, he couldn't see her in the dark and thought she had run off," a source close to the investigation told the Saturday Telegraph.
"It was pitch black but it was full moon, she was able to use the light to run away."
Hamilton Police investigators have appealed for calm and have launched a manhunt involving armed officers and dog handlers in the search for the attacker who was yesterday afternoon still on the run in Waikato and believed to be armed.
Detectives say initial inquiries suggest the attack was random and unprovoked.
The killer dumped the van with the body inside after driving at high speed for 80kms to Gordonton.
The couple, who live in Auckland, were woken in their campervan by the stranger banging at their window with a gun and demanding they hand over the vehicle.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said officers were working hard to trace the fugitive and appealed for anyone who knows him or saw the apollo white 2017 Toyota Hiace ZL, registration KWF362, to contact them.
"This is an absolutely tragic incident, from our enquiries to this point, we believe the victims were not known to the offender and this appears to be a random attack," the Waikato district crime manager said.
"It is obviously concerning that we have an armed offender outstanding and we want to assure our Waikato community that our absolute priority is locating him as soon as possible and holding him to account."
"We are supporting the female victim who is understandably very shocked and distressed, providing her with the support and welfare she needs," DI Pitkethley said.
Detectives are working through a list of persons of interest in a bid to narrow down the attacker's identity.
DI Pitkethley believes members of the killer know exactly who he is and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
"Police are working through a number of leads in terms of people of interest, but again I appeal to the public that they will know who is involved in this incident and for them to come forward and contact police as soon as possible
"Due to the circumstance of the attack it is likely he has confided in members of his community.
"There was nothing to indicate that drugs or alcohol were relevant to the fatal shooting at this early stage."
Yesterday tributes poured for Sean McKinnon, a musician from Warrnambool, Victoria.
His sister Emmeline McKinnon, 39, said she struggles when she thinks about her loving brother's final moments.
"I feel sheer helplessness. As an older sister I wish I could have been there to defend and protect him," she said.
'It's a horrible thought to know he was alone when he died.'
Corangamite shire councillor Simon Illingworth said: "I knew him for years through surfing. "He's just an awesome bloke, cruisy, honest, give you the shirt off his back sort of bloke," he said.
"I've known him for years, a couple of decades. I'm just gutted for him and his family.
"Seanny Mac was always a legend. He would do somersaults off the Port Campbell pier with the kids. He always had time for everyone," he said.
"He was just a lovely bloke, liked to joke around and the kids that knew him will be absolutely devastated," he said.