28 Jul 2017

Firearm found at Whangarei killer's property

8:20 pm on 28 July 2017

Northland police have found what they think is a firearm, next to the suspected remains of the man who shot two women dead in Whangarei on Wednesday.

Forensic staff are combing through what's left of the property in Mt Tiger Road rented by the shooter, Quinn Patterson.

Quinn Patterson

Quinn Patterson Photo: LinkedIn

Quinn Patterson killed property manager Wendy Campbell, 60, and her 37-year-old daughter Natanya on Wednesday morning when they visited his home with a contractor to install smoke alarms. The contractor was also shot, but managed to escape and raise the alarm.

The house burned to the ground on Wednesday after an exchange of gunfire between Patterson and the police, but it's not known how he died.

Police said they would need more forensic tests before they could fully confirm they had found a gun beside the body. But they said Patterson had a number of firearms and no licence.

Superintendent Russell Le Prou said how he came to possess those weapons was a concern and an important part of the investigation.

There are reports that Patterson, aged in his 50s, had multiple guns and other weapons, including grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Post mortems were carried out in Auckland today on the bodies of the two property managers killed by Patterson, Wendy and Natanya Campbell and it's understood their Northland whānau will take them home tomorrow.

Police earlier confirmed they had found badly burnt human remains at the scene but said it would take some time to formally identify them.

A friend of Patterson's said at the end his mental health issues got on top of him, and he lost the plot.

Leah Cameron told Morning Report that Patterson was confrontational and abrupt, but he was not a monster.

She said he suffered from severe depression and did try to help himself but did not get what he needed.

"It's shaken the nation, like an emotional earthquake, and we need to look at what is the message here - why did this happen?

"And I think, myself, that it's a reflection that there is crisis in mental health in New Zealand," she said.

Ms Cameron said more needed to be done to help people teetering on the edge.

Whangarei's Mayor, Sheryl Mai, told Morning Report the community was now asking whether other people who had similar issues were living among them.

Retired Northland police officer Gavin Benney, who was the constable at Hikurangi for 30 years, said Patterson would have found it easy to buy guns - with or without a licence.

Mr Benney said there were plenty of illegal firearms owners around - and the police had no way of knowing what was in their arsenals.

Since changes to the firearms laws in the 1980's, the police had not had to keep a firearms register.

"So now it's just the gun owners who are registered - not the guns. You're supposed to ask for the gun licence if you're selling one but do people do that? Probably not a lot of the time," he said.

'Incredibly brave'

Earlier, the officer in charge of the investigation, Superintendent Russell Le Prou, has said the armed offenders squad formed a human shield around medically-trained police staff to try and save the women.

Police Association president, Chris Cahill, told Morning Report that was not part of the officers' training and they were "incredibly brave" to break cover and expose themselves to an armed gunmen.

Patterson was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stabbing a police officer multiple times with a 33cm hunting knife in Hamilton in 1983.

The victim, former dog handler Bruce Howat, said it took him 10 years to come to terms with the attack.

He said he lost a lung, and had to relive the events in four or five court trials before Patterson was convicted and sentenced for grievous bodily harm - reduced from a charge of attempted murder.

Patterson's only sister, Gloria, said her brother's mental and physical health deteriorated rapidly this year and she had urged him to seek help.

Police said they were investigating and a scene examination could take many days.

Police check cars at Owhiwa Rd / Whangarei Heads Rd cordon.

Police check cars at a traffic cordon on Wednesday. Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

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