An Australian man has been shot dead in a campervan in a random attack in New Zealand before his killer stole the vehicle and drove it for an hour with his body inside.
Sean McKinnon, 33, was killed while sleeping in a campervan in Raglan, outside of Hamilton, at about 3am on Friday.
A manhunt for the gunman is underway.
“This is a tragic incident. Inquiries indicate that this was a random attack,” Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley told reporters in Hamilton on Friday.
Police said Mr McKinnon was sleeping in the campervan with his 32-year-old Canadian fiancee when the gunman fired a number of shots into the vehicle.
The woman escaped and fled to a nearby property to raise the alarm, while the gunman stole the campervan with the dying Mr McKinnon inside.
Mr McKinnon was from southwest Victoria.
“He was a lovable, knockabout Aussie guy, loved his surfing,” friend Julian Smith told AAP.
Police said Mr McKinnon’s body was found in the stolen campervan, which was abandoned on Gordonton Rd in Hamilton, about 80km away from the Raglan crime scene.
Waikato Police said the vehicle was a white 2017 Toyota Hiace ZL and they have said they want to hear from any witnesses who saw the campervan after the shooting.
Det Insp Pitkethley said police expect someone knows who killed Mr McKinnon as Raglan is a small town on New Zealand’s west coast, south of Auckland.
Police say the gunman reportedly demanded the keys to the campervan before shooting the Australian man “more than once”.
“We are supporting the female victim who is understandably very shocked and distressed, providing her with the support and welfare that she needs,” Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said.
Authorities believe the incident was not pre-meditated.
“This is a random attack by, at this stage, what we can attribute to a sole offender but due to the circumstances of the attack, it is likely that he has confided in members of his community,” Det Insp Pitkethley said.
Det Insp Pitkethley said police are working on the assumption the gunman is still armed.
Forensic officers are examining the campervan for evidence.
Apollo Motorhome Holidays’ Stacey Davis has told SBS News the company is “aware of the incident involving one of our campers.”
The Brisbane-based business is now working with New Zealand Police.
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed it is also assisting in the case.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance, in accordance with the Consular Services Charter, to the family of an Australian man who died in New Zealand,” they said.
Colin Chung from Colin’s Cafe at nearby Whale Bay told AAP the area is a rocky coastline and provided some of the best surf in New Zealand, but it is off the beaten track for tourists.
He heard helicopters in the air about 6.30am but thought it might have been about a boat in trouble.
“It stayed in the air for a long time, maybe 45 minutes,” he said.
With additional reporting from AAP