Victorian surfer shot dead during campervan robbery at Raglan

Swellnet Dispatch

A 33-year-old Australian man has been shot dead in New Zealand while having his campervan stolen by a suspect who remains at large, local police have confirmed.

Sean McKinnon, from south-western Victoria, and his Canadian girlfriend were sleeping at the Te Toto Gorge carpark in Raglan, on the west coast of the North Island, early this morning.

Police said a man demanded the key to the couple's campervan, before shooting the Australian. His partner, described as being "very shocked and distressed", managed to escape the gunman and alerted the police.

"At approximately 3:20am, police were notified that an offender had approached a van and shots were fired," Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said.

"At approximately 8:00am this morning, police located the van with the man's body inside."

Police said they found the van with the body inside some 80 kilometres away.

Armed officers have launched a manhunt across the Waikato district to find the gunman, who remains at large.

"Inquiries indicate that this was a random attack," Detective Inspector Pitkethley said.

"It is understandable and concerning to have an armed offender outstanding but I want to reassure the public we are working hard to identify and locate the offender. It is our absolute priority."

Te Toto Gorge Raglan, situated about three hours south of Auckland on New Zealand's west coast, is a popular coastal destination for walkers and hikers.

Detective Inspector Pitkethley said "the terrain where the vehicle was stolen is quite rough with a lot of bush around".

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was "providing consular assistance" to the family of the deceased.

Raglan local Sue Marseglia said the incident has caught residents of the area by surprise.

"My daughter is at the local school and she's just rung to say that it was in lockdown earlier today," Ms Marseglia said.

"[I'm] in a bit of disbelief really, nothing like this happens in a small seaside town, it's quite unusual."

Police said the vehicle was a white 2017 Toyota Hiace campervan.

Stacey Davis from Apollo Motorhome Holidays, through which the van was said to have been rented, said the company was aware of the incident.

"We are co-operating with the authorities as the investigation continues and our thoughts are with the family at this time," she said.

The New Zealand Herald reported the Australian's girlfriend ran several kilometres to get help after the shooting.

McKinnon an 'honest, cruisy guy'

Corangamite Shire Councillor Simon Illingworth said he has spent countless hours surfing alongside the young man on the coast around Port Campbell, and has know him for about 15 years.

He said he is in disbelief about Mr McKinnon's death.

"I just can not believe that such a nice person could have their life finished like this," he said.

"He was just so lovely … such an honest, cruisy guy.

"He used to share waves in the surf and he was so courageous in big waves."

He said Mr McKinnon came from a close family and was a credit to his parents.

"To anyone who came down who decided to live down our way, Seany was the local they'd always talk about and say what a welcoming person he was," he said.

Councillor Illingworth said the last time he saw Mr McKinnon, he was being a "champion of the kids" on the Port Campbell pier.

"He was doing some sort of twisting somersault for the kids and I reckon there was 20 or 30 of them all clapping him as he did it," he said.

Corangamite Shire Mayor Neil Trotter said community members were stunned by Mr McKinnon's death.

"When they're people that you know and people you associate with, it hits home," he said.

Councillor Trotter compared the incident to the recent murder of Australian man Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend in Canada.

"Unfortunately these type of incidents are increasing and it's mindless and senseless," he said.

"It just defies logic that people would do that to their fellow humans."

© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Comments

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 5:49pm

How very tragic. RIP mate. 

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 6:16pm

always in the back of my mind when camping in the middle of nowhere...poor guy...RIP

simba

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 6:19pm

Terrible and devastating. Condolences to anyone on here that knows, or knows of, Sean.

mick-free's picture
mick-free's picture
mick-free commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 6:32pm

This is not fucken acceptable.

Mick Free FIFOFOMO

mick-free's picture
mick-free's picture
mick-free commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 6:35pm

unacceptable I meant sorry Stu please excuse the language on the forum... Christchurch now this wtf is going on

Mick Free FIFOFOMO

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 6:56pm

Just caught this on the news...horrifying & the killer is stalking armed & dangerous.

{R.I.P} swellnet crew salute ~~~~^~~~/(`~~~~/(C`...[ Sean )*

therealneil's picture
therealneil's picture
therealneil commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 7:27pm

RIP Seano , just a special human being, you’ll be sorely missed old mate, our thoughts to your fiancé and family and friends over in Vicco and all round the world ,
Devastated

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 7:34pm

Camped in this very same spot years ago.

Sad sad news. My sincerest condolences to Seans family and friends.

RIP mate.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

loungelizard's picture
loungelizard's picture
loungelizard commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 7:45pm

"he used to share waves and was courageous in big surf". what beautiful words about a surfer.

therealneil's picture
therealneil's picture
therealneil commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 7:46pm

RIP Seano , just a special human being, you’ll be sorely missed old mate, our thoughts to your fiancé and family and friends over in Vicco and all round the world ,
Devastated

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 7:46pm

absolute nightmare scenario.
hope they catch the killer soon and get him off the streets.

can't even imagine what the fiancé and family are going through.
condolences.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 8:36pm

Very sad and slightly concerning with recent events around the world. Condolences to the family and friends :(

poo-man's picture
poo-man's picture
poo-man commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 8:54pm

Totally tragic news this morning and condolences to the fiance and family. The whole town is freaked out today and i can't remember anything like this happening in raglan ever before. And whoever did it is still on the loose. Just unfathomable really

poo-man

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 9:08pm

Sad story, met Sean one time when he was just a grom on a surf trip to the desert, amped and friendly as could be, classic west coast old fashioned crew, unlucky by the looks of it in this tragedy , something always in the back of the mind when you are sleeping in the car somewhere. RIP mate

SI's picture
SI's picture
SI commented Friday, 16 Aug 2019 at 10:56pm

This guy was also known as Mackerel. I knew Mackerel and surfed with him from time to time over the years. He was an absolute champion great guy in and out of the water. He just had the greatest human qualities and it is so sad to hear this news. So many people liked him and I cannot imagine the pain of those close to him like his fiancé and family; my heart goes out to them. If there is a heaven, I hope he gets a front seat!

Barrelrider

greg-n.williams's picture
greg-n.williams's picture
greg-n.williams commented Saturday, 17 Aug 2019 at 7:49am

Totally freaked me out as my youngest is in NZ travelling in a camper! Why some low life would do this to another human being is unfathomable to any sane person! RIP Sean & my condolences to your family & loved ones.

Robo's picture
Robo's picture
Robo commented Saturday, 17 Aug 2019 at 8:10am

RIP. Terrible, they have caught the mongrel now apparently a 23 year old local. We were at Raglan for a few days this time last year, beautiful place. Was only telling a guy doing a surf check yesterday how cold the water was then got in the car and heard this on the radio.
@greg-n.williams. My son is doing that in January next year for his honeymoon.

poo-man's picture
poo-man's picture
poo-man commented Saturday, 17 Aug 2019 at 8:12am

The police have caught the guy who did this. Not sure who yet but he's from the area. This is just tragic.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12259364

poo-man

jacksprat's picture
jacksprat's picture
jacksprat commented Saturday, 17 Aug 2019 at 10:11am

Please be careful when travelling. Life is precious. Sincerest condolences to all involved.

onetimeonly

ruckus's picture
ruckus's picture
ruckus commented Sunday, 18 Aug 2019 at 6:38am

Makes me pretty tearful to be honest. Sincerest condolences to the fiancée, friends, family & loved ones. This world can be seriously f'ed sometimes

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Saturday, 17 Aug 2019 at 12:00pm

Thats fucked. Just like that - taken away, and for what.

Why, if you ever had to rob someone, shoot them? How does that help at any point?

I am the bone

inzider's picture
inzider's picture
inzider commented Saturday, 17 Aug 2019 at 9:34pm

Condolences to family
Raglan and surrounding areas have bad gang problems. Lots of fried meth losers. Travel carefully in these areas.

Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com commented Saturday, 17 Aug 2019 at 9:35pm

Tragic news. RIP

Feels to close to home. My Girl friend and I stayed in our camper this year at this very spot.
Beautiful place and seems so crazy to think it can happen there.

Nicko