22 Aug 2018

Whanganui shooting a 'one-off event' says mayor

6:33 pm on 22 August 2018

A large police manhunt is underway in Whanganui after a gang-related shooting left a man dead.

Mongrel Mob members at the Puriri Street cordon

Mongrel Mob members at the Puriri Street cordon Photo: RNZ Leigh-Marama McLaughlin

RNZ understands the victim, Kevin Ratana, 27, died at a property on Puriri Street in the suburb of Castlecliff at about 9.30am. Police have yet to release his name.

Witnesses said the offenders fled on foot, and police have called in extra support from around the country as the hunt for them continues.

Dozens of patched Mongrel Mob members congregated at a church at the edge of the cordon today.

What people saw

Kyle lives across the road and was home when the shooting happened.

"Yeah, I seen it. I was just painting a picture. I heard the first shot, I looked out the window seen a few guys running across the road, so I went and grabbed my nephew and then I heard a couple more shots, so I took him into the hallway. And then I looked out the window and they were gone.

"Then about two minutes later this lady started screaming for the ambulance," he said.

Kyle said he made sure his nephew was okay, before he looked out the window again.

"I was pretty sure I saw a broken window at the house and one guy got shot in the head on his front lawn, I'm pretty sure," he said.

Nearby schools and early childcare centres were placed into lockdown for the day.

A large section on the corner of Puriri Street was blocked off and armed officers have been guarding it since.

Locals report having armed police combing their properties for hours last night.

Just up the road at the local dairy Sumaya San-a, said it had been frightening.

"Yeah it is pretty scary, but the cops were here yesterday and all the ones with the armour guard and everything like that. There's the cops going past.

"People when they come to the shop they tell us what's going on. What I've heard so far is, the guy who was shot, his wife was with him as well. So it was pretty sad because she was just sitting there crying when he just got shot," she said.

Police have yet to identify the victim, but friends and family have named him as Kevin Ratana on social media.

His body was removed from the scene at around midday today.

Police have launched an extensive hunt for the offenders - bringing in officers from New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wellington.

They said the victim and offenders were gang affiliates, who were known to each other, and the police.

Garry Battesby, manager of liquor store on the street, had his own theories about the shooting.

"Probably Mongrel Mob have come into Black Power territory, as far as I can tell."

He said the shooting had shaken the community and business had been slow since it happened.

It's not the first time something like this has rocked the community, just over 10 years ago a 2 year-old was shot in a drive-by just houses down.

Whangaui's acting mayor: 'Police know what they are doing.'

Whanganui's acting mayor Jenny Duncan said the community was traumatised, but the public was not at risk.

"Our main reaction was our thoughts were with the family affected and that community and wanting to make sure that they're fully supported through this time," she said.

"Look this is a one-off event, it was very unexpected. We are vibrant, small city, that doesn't have a gang problem anymore than anywhere else."

"We just want to assure them that the police know what they are doing, they've got a strong presence here and the matter under control," she said.