Australian tourist killed in New Zealand after attack on van, Canadian partner escapes

Police in New Zealand were searching for a suspect after an Australian tourist was killed following what police believe was a random attack on the van that he and his Canadian partner were sleeping inside.

Police said the couple was parked at a scenic spot near the coastal town of Raglan when a suspect approached their van just after 3 a.m. local time on Friday.

Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley told media the suspect fired a number of shots into the van, injuring the Australian tourist. The Canadian woman managed to escape and run away, and she called police.

Pitkethley said the suspect then stole the van and drove away with the injured tourist still inside.

CBC News reached out to Global Affairs Canada for comment on the situation.

Police found the van at 8 a.m. local time about 75 kilometres away in the village of Gordonton with the body of the Australian inside. It wasn’t immediately clear if the man had died from the wounds he received in the initial attack or had been subject to further violence.

“This is a tragic incident,” Pitkethley said. He said police were supporting the woman, who was “very shocked and distressed.”

New Zealand police found the van at 8 a.m. local time about 75 kilometres away with the body of the Australian inside. (TVNZ)

He said it was understandable people were worried the suspect remained armed and hadn’t been found.

“I want to reassure the public that we are working hard to identify and locate the offender,” Pitkethley said. “It is our absolute priority.”

Police deployed SWAT-style teams to the scene, and all police in the region began carrying guns as a precaution. New Zealand police typically don’t carry guns on routine patrols, keeping them stored in their cars instead.

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