23 Jan 2019

Whanganui stabbings: Man charged with murder

1:53 pm on 23 January 2019

A man is in custody and is due to appear in court today following a series of stabbings in Whanganui that left one person dead and five others injured.

The morning after the stabbing incident in Whanganui

The scene this morning after the stabbings yesterday. Photo: RNZ / Leigh-Marama McLachlan

In a 12.30pm standup, Whanganui area commander Inspector Nigel Allan said a 36-year-old man is to appear in Whanganui District Court on five charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one charge of murder.

Whanganui Ruapehu Area Commander Inspector Nigel Allan.

Whanganui Ruapehu Area Commander Inspector Nigel Allan. Photo: RNZ / Leigh-Marama McLachlan

There is no ongoing risk to the community following the incident, Mr Allen said.

Five victims were admitted to Whanganui Hospital last night with injuries ranging from moderate to serious. One person has since been discharged.

A security guard and a police officer are now guarding an old white house on the corner of Wicksteed and Liverpool Streets. The area has been cordoned off.

Late Tuesday night police confirmed that one person died there after the stabbing incident. The body is still believed to be in the house.

The incident, however, was not isolated to the house. Yesterday, there were two makeshift cordons set up across the road at a New World carpark and an area was splattered with blood. It's been cleaned up and cars are now parked there.

Detective inspector Paul Baskett said one person had been taken into custody immediately after the incident and police were not looking for anyone else.

Police were not yet in a position to release the name of the deceased, he said.

Multiple police cars arrived at Wicksteed Street at about 4.15pm after reports of the stabbings. Blood splatters were also seen in the carpark of a New World supermarket, about a block away in Victoria St.

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Photo: RNZ / Leigh-Marama McLachlan

Horrified shoppers saw a woman with several stab wounds collapse on the ground.

Eye witness Hayley Curtis said the whole incident was "pretty full on" to see.

"We were just heading to the supermarket and a lady approached mine and several other cars after running out on Wicksteed Street (opposite the New World carpark) with a male almost calmly walking behind her in ripped clothes with a knife," Ms Curtis told RNZ.

"She screamed for help and yelled that he had a knife and was stabbing people. She was stabbed several times and covered in blood. Several others in different directions also appeared to be injured.

"One man was holding his neck which was bleeding and another lady was in the New World carpark also bleeding from her head.

"We called the police and they were quick to show and the offender seemed to cooperate dropping to the ground when they arrived. The lady that was screaming to help had now collapsed but ambos were starting to arrive. The offender was still outside the house in cuffs when I left with police around."

The man, who is now in custody, will appear in the Whanganui District Court this afternoon.

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall

Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said the city was shaken by the stabbings.

"The reality is, it's sobering, it is a tragedy, you know one individual has lost their lives and numerous people have been affected so I think that affects all of the community," he said.

"It's dreadful at the start of the year when everyone is enjoying the summer and we have had a great weekend last weekend and now this terrible tragedy and quite horrific for the people in the carpark who experienced some of the victims coming out of the flat."

Mr McDouall is commending the "outstanding bravery" of medical staff from Te Oranganui Medical Centre who rushed to the aid of some victims.

"I have received a number of calls but I don't think anyone is worried about their own safety, this is an isolated incident."