Shooting deaths stun community

A posy of flowers, delivered by a woman to 9 Kiwi St, St Leonards, where two children and a man...
A posy of flowers, delivered by a woman to 9 Kiwi St, St Leonards, where two children and a man died on Wednesday night, is placed at the letterbox inside the police cordon by Senior Constable Paul Anderson yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Bradley and Ellen Livingstone in the play area at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in November....
Bradley and Ellen Livingstone in the play area at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in November. Photo by Linda Robertson.

St Leonards is a close-knit community in shock.

Residents are mourning the ''terrible and horrific'' deaths of Bradley (9) and Ellen (6) Livingstone, who were found dead at their Kiwi St home on Wednesday night.

Also found dead inside the house was a 51-year-old man, believed to be Edward Hamilton Livingstone, the children's father.

Police have not confirmed the man's identity, nor what his relationship to the children was.

The children's 49-year-old mother, believed to be Katharine Livingstone, was at home with them on Wednesday night when gunshots were heard and police called.

She fled to a neighbour's house.

The dead man was her estranged husband.

Their relationship ended last May.

Police said the mother was home at the time and ''information indicates that she was able to leave the address and get to a neighbour's house''.

The neighbour was spoken to by police yesterday morning, but declined to comment publicly about the incident.

He told the Otago Daily Times he would not comment ''out of respect for the deceased''.

It was suggested he had gone to the Livingstone children's home and wrestled with the gunman, but police would not confirm that claim.

Police said the dead man, who had twice been charged with breaching a Domestic Violence Act protection order, lived in Milton until ''very recently''.

The exact circumstances of his living arrangements since then were still being determined.

They confirmed the man did not have a firearms licence, and were investigating how he gained possession of the shotgun used.

He was a ''non-custodial'' administrator at the Otago Corrections Facility in Milburn.

Dunedin Clutha Waitaki Area Commander Inspector Greg Sparrow said police and Christchurch ESR staff started a forensic examination of the house yesterday.

The scene examination was expected to take a couple of days.

Police also canvassed neighbours, he said.

It was expected the three bodies would be removed from the house yesterday evening and taken for postmortem examinations, he said.

About 15 staff are working on the investigation.

Neighbours told the Otago Daily Times yesterday it was a quiet, friendly community.

A woman who had lived in Kiwi St for more than 40 years said it was the first time anything sinister had occurred in the area.

''It's a shock to have this kind of thing on your doorstep,'' she said.

It was believed the Livingstones had lived in Kiwi St for several years.

Many residents were visibly upset and declined to comment.

One woman said her children were classmates of Bradley and Ellen.

Another said their deaths were ''terrible and horrific''.

A resident said his pet dog often wandered down the street to play with Bradley and Ellen, whom he said were ''lovely''.

The Livingstone children had just started learning to sail, he said.

Another neighbour said she heard three bangs on Wednesday night and thought it was fireworks.

''I heard a bang, and then a bang and a little bit later another bang.''

Bradley and Ellen attended the three-classroom St Leonards School, which has a roll of 68. Principal Jo Wilson said St Leonards parents and children were comforting one another.

''It's a small community and a small school, and we all know each other very well.''

She opened the school premises yesterday for those who wanted company and to comfort others.

''There's already been a lot of parents and children in, just looking after each other, and that's what we'll continue to do. The Ministry of Education has offered support and information about agencies we can contact when we need to,'' she said.

Mrs Wilson said people would seek help when they were ready.

''People will grieve in their own ways and as long as people know it's available to them, the best thing for everyone is to keep talking and know we are here,'' she said.

The school would also be open today, she said.

She said she had spoken to Katharine Livingstone.

''She's going to let us know, when she's sorted everything out, what she wants the school to do [as a tribute],'' Ms Wilson said.

''We will be doing something for them but we want to talk together [with Mrs Livingstone] and see what we can do.''

Staff at Work and Income New Zealand, where Mrs Livingstone worked, were devastated and shocked, deputy chief executive Debbie Power said.

''As you can appreciate, staff thoughts have been with Katharine and her family. We're all devastated and shocked, and everyone who knows her will need time and space to deal with this tragedy,'' she said.

The office was temporarily closed yesterday morning so management could talk to staff and offer them support.

''Over the coming days, people will be considering the best ways of supporting Katharine and her wider family and friends, in ways that will make a real difference for her. We will also support our colleagues as they come to terms with what has happened,'' Ms Power said.

- Additional reporting APNZ