3 Jun 2016

Toddler death: 'It's like a horror movie'

3:12 pm on 3 June 2016

An Auckland man charged with gun possession in relation to a two-year old's death has been granted interim name suppression at Manakau District Court this afternoon.

A police officer stands outside the house on Favona Road where the two-year-old was found dead on 2 June 2016.

A police officer stands outside the house on Favona Road in Mangere, where the two-year-old was found dead. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The 26-year-old was charged with illegal possession of a firearm, and was arrested following the death of the girl at her family home in Mangere.

Emergency services arrived at Favona Road just before midday yesterday, but the toddler had already died.

She was thought to have been shot and killed with a shotgun found by police at her family home.

The two-year-old lived at the house with her three siblings and her parents, none of whom had a firearms licence, police said.

Detective Inspector Faa Va'aelua said the toddler likely died from a gunshot wound.

Detective Inspector Faa Va'aelua Photo: RNZ

Detective Inspector Faa Va'aelua said the exact cause of death still had to be confirmed by a post mortem, but it appeared the girl had died from the gunshot wound.

"We found the lifeless body of a two-year-old toddler - a young girl - and our inquiries have so far revealed she suffered a gunshot wound."

Mr Va'aelua said police were still trying to establish whether or not the shooting was accidental.

Police arrested and charged the man after questioning him at the scene.

'It's like a horror movie, a bad dream'

A local resident yesterday described seeing the street filled with police cars and ambulance trucks shortly after midday.

"We walked past to the shop, and we saw everyone outside, and all the families crying."

Jessie Piutau, who lives just across the road, said she did not know the family, but could hear children crying.

"I was in my room and I heard police sirens and a baby crying."

When she walked outside, she saw the family gathered outside the house with several children.

Another neighbour told RNZ News the family had only been at the home for a few months, and they'd never seen anyone carrying a firearm in the area.

A relative of the family, Seone Tatafu, arrived from his home in Onehunga as soon as he heard the news.

"It's just a shock to everyone, to us, to the family... Me and the boys, we're here to show support, to show love and respect."

Police speak with a group of people inside the cordon on Favona Road, where a two-year-old girl was found dead on 2 June 2016.

Police speak with a group of people inside the cordon on Favona Road. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Another relative, Sam, said he had spoken to the family of the two-year-old girl earlier, and also said they were in shock.

"It's just like something you're not supposed to wake up to... They're just sad, it's like a horror movie, a bad dream that never stops."

The girl was beautiful, and outgoing, he said.

"She was very smart for her age, she acted like an old person because she was good at sharing.

"We're just all sad that she's gone now."

He said the sudden loss held a life lesson - to keep hold of family ties.

"Just cherish every moment you have, you know, don't take it for granted."

As the sun set, family members gathered with a priest outside the home and performed a waiata, through tears and disbelief, as the body was loaded into a coroner's car and driven away.

Cordons remained in place overnight, as police officers swept through the front yard and the house.

The name of the two-year-old was expected to be released this afternoon, once all of her extended family have been notified.

Police said, once investigations were complete, they might lay further charges against the man currently in custody.