6 Oct 2016

Otorohanga left 'devastated' by double knife attack

10:48 am on 6 October 2016

Residents of Otorohanga are 'devastated' by a horrific knife attack in the small town and are trying to come to terms with what happened.

Clare Bremner, 60, was killed on Tuesday night and her husband Keith Bremner, 64, was critically injured and is under guard in Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit.

Police are looking for their 34-year-old son Ross Bremner.

Ross Douglas Bremner

Ross Douglas Bremner. Photo: NZ Police

Locals who spoke to RNZ said they felt numb and could not understand what had happened.

John Haddad has run a menswear shop in Otorohanga with his brother for 50 years.

He said Keith Bremner had been a customer for most of that time, even coming in with his parents when he was a child.

Mr Haddad said Mr Bremner was a good friend and always cracked jokes.

"We always have a laugh about something and [he] always tells a story about something. A very very good man and always helps people. He has that 'I want to help people' attitude."

He said Mr Bremner had recently come in and shown them a photo from a trip to Australia to visit his grandchildren.

"The whole town at the moment is devastated with this news. His lovely wife of course not with us anymore so that's very sad - she was a local girl, she was brought up in this town and her family lived in this town.

"So we're devastated to hear about this.

"We certainly hope that Keith is going to come back to us ... in a reasonable shape as far his physical condition is. As far as everything else goes he's never going to get over this one, how could he, it's so sad."

Clare Bremner taught preschoolers with learning difficulties and Otorohanga District councillor Robert Prescott, who went to school with her, said she was part of the community.

"Community spirited, real genuine lovely person. It'd be really hard to think she had any enemies in the world."

Mr Prescott said it was the second tragedy for Otorohanga in a year after a teenager was killed on the main road.

"The community sort of bonded and got together and I'm pretty sure it'll happen for this too. You think these sort of things don't happen in little towns like this but obviously it does. We're a strong, resilient little community and we'll cope and get behind the family and support them all that we can.

Mr Prescott said his children had gone to school with Ross Bremner, who he understood was in the army.

"I really think he has to stop, give himself [up] and stop this carry-on and bring closure to this incident, and I hope there's no more dramas," Mr Prescott said.

The town's mayor Max Baxter said the town is in shock as the Bremners are a well-known family.

He said Ross Bremner had probably fled the town and region, because locals would probably know if he were still nearby.

"Being a tight-knit community like Ototohanga is I would imagine people would be pretty quick at revealing where he is, so I would say he's gone certainly out of the town and I would believe, at this stage, out of the district.

"But I mean obviously, through the crime that has been committed, he's obviously in a very very dark place at the moment."

A Waikato District Health Board spokesperson said Ross Bremner had been a mental health patient.

He was last in inpatient care in 2013 and has been living in the community since then, the spokesperson said.

Police said Ms Bremner's body was removed from her home yesterday and a post-mortem would be done in Auckland Hospital today.

Cordons remained in place at the house while police were continuing their investigation.

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