1990: Massacre leaves nation in shock

A six-year-old child is dead, a policeman is missing, believed dead, and six other people were shot and wounded after an Aramoana man went on the rampage with a high-powered rifle last night.

Early this morning police believed the gunman was still at large, but confined to an area between Te Ngaru and Spit Beach. The area provides plenty of cover, from sand dunes to tussock grassland and salt marsh.

Police said they would wait until first light before making any further moves.

Armed Offenders squads from Dunedin, Christchurch, Timaru and Invercargill were rushed to the area to look for the gunman, who is believed to be in his late 20s and a resident of the village.

Police were able to confirm the child's death but would only say the police officer was missing "and we hold grave fears for his safety".

Police would confirm only that three people had been shot.

It was unofficially understood that six had been admitted to Dunedin Hospital with gunshot wounds.

Aramoana village, 27km from Dunedin at the entrance to Otago Harbour, normally is home to 40 to 50 residents. They are mostly retired people, but there are also several alternative lifestyle families.

Early this morning some of them were still trapped in their homes, unable to be safely evacuated, while others had been taken to Port Chalmers until the situation was returned to normal.

November 15:A hail of police gunfire yesterday ended the life of the lone gunman David Gray, who shot and killed at least 11 men, women and children in 24 hours of terror at Aramoana. Two other people are unaccounted for.

Gray (33) was cut down by police anti-terrorist squad members after he opened fire on them about 6pm from the house he had holed up in during the tense and highly dangerous search for him.

He received fatal gunshot wounds in the chest.

His 24-hour shooting spree - the worst criminal massacre in New Zealand's history - cost the lives of a police sergeant, several well-known local figures, children and women.

It is believed that among the victims were former mayor of Green Island Mr Vic Crimp and a leader in the anti-aluminium smelter campaign, Mr Garry Holden.

Other victims - nine of whom police would not name last night - were well-known local identities who had lived in the village at the entrance to Otago Harbour for many years.

FASCINATION FOR GUNS

The killer was a loner who had caused concern to residents and others in the Dunedin community with his fascination for guns and the military.

Shortly after 7.30pm on Tuesday, Gray starting firing automatic and semi-automatic weapons indiscriminately in the village. Why he did so is not known, but there were suggestions from locals yesterday that he had a grudge against his neighbour, Garry Holden, claiming Mr Holden, a sufferer of ME (or Tapanui flu), had passed the virus on to him.

Gray is believed to have shot and killed Mr Holden and at least one of Mr Holden's daughters, and then set fire to the Holdens' house, razing it.

Port Chalmers police sergeant, Stewart Guthrie (41) was called to the village by other residents and was shot and killed by Gray as he approached. Gray then shot and killed at least 10 others.

Bodies lay in the streets of Aramoana overnight from Tuesday because police could not approach to retrieve them for fear of being shot.

Gray was well armed, had plenty of ammunition, was dressed in commando gear and had blacked his face to avoid detection in the darkness.

All day police were active in and around the township.

Soon after midday an Iroquois helicopter landed on Heyward Point, and two anti-terrorist police from Wellington began scaling down the hill toward the town.

Scatterings of armed police were sporadically sighted throughout the eastern half of the town as they worked their way through houses checking and clearing some of them.

Shortly after 4pm the drama moved into its final stages when police advanced on the gunman's house in Muri St, throwing smoke grenades and tear gas.

Police activity moved into top gear about 5.20pm, with groups of armed police clearly visible among houses throughout the town.

Just before 6pm, short bursts of about 50 rounds of ammunition were fired in quick succession.

GRAY ISOLATED

Police confirmed they had isolated the whereabouts of Gray and had stormed an area in the middle of town with tear gas and smoke grenades.

Police reported Gray had been arrested, but had received serious head and chest injuries. He was pronounced dead at 6.20pm at the scene.

Police last night said the squads approached the corner of Mokia St and Poto St where they were met by a volley of shots.

Dunedin police yesterday released the names of the rest of those killed at Aramoana, bringing the toll to 14.

Those killed by Gray were:Vanessa Grace Percy (26), of 14 Harbour Tce, Careys Bay.

Her husband, Ross James Percy (42).

Their son, Dion Percy (6).

Garry John Holden (38), of 29 Muri St, Aramoana.

His daughter, Jasmine Holden (11).

Her friend Rewa Bryson (11), of 37 Moana St, Aramoana.

Magnus (Tim) Jamieson (69), 28 Muri St, Aramoana.

Stewart Guthrie (41), Port Chalmers police station.

Vic Crimp (71), Aramoana Rd, Aramoana.

Leo Wilson (6), Port Chalmers.

Simon Christopher Cole (61), Aramoana.

Alex Tall (41), of Harbour Tce, Careys Bay.

James Alexander Dickson (45), of 7 Muri St, Aramoana.

The dead gunman was David Malcolm Gray (33), of 27 Muri St, Aramoana.

Injured were: Stacey Percy (4), of Careys Bay; Chiquita Holden (9) of Aramoana. Both girls were reported by Dunedin Hospital last night to be progressing favourably in a stable condition.

 

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