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Work and Income workers Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland died and their colleague Lindy Curtis was seriously wounded when a gunmen entered their workplace on Monday morning with a shotgun.
Homeless man Russell John Tully has been charged with two counts of murder and one of attempted murder in relation to the shooting.
Below is the letter in full, as published by the Ashburton Guardian today:
Ashburton is a close-knit community and many people will know someone who has been affected by this terrible event.
I have been receiving regular updates since the events unfolded on Monday. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and local Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew have both been on the ground in Ashburton and have been telling me about how the community has pulled together since.
Work and Income staff across the country are hard-working and dedicated to helping other New Zealanders in need. It is simply unacceptable they are subject to abuse or in this case fatal violence.
My sincere condolences go to the families of those killed and injured. My sympathy is also with the staff at Work and Income and other witnesses who will be shocked and traumatised by what has happened.
The two women who lost their lives – Peg and Leigh – were long serving members of staff at the Ashburton Work and Income office and by all accounts it was a tight-knit group.
Peg and Leigh touched a lot of lives through their work and their personal interests and they will be missed by many.
A lot of questions will be asked and answered in the coming days and weeks ahead about how this happened.
The Government is fully committed to protecting its frontline staff from abuse and threatening behaviour. We are also fully committed to supporting the people of Ashburton.
Everyday New Zealanders get up in the morning to go to work and their families expect them to return home. In this case, that has not happened. My thoughts are with the family and friends of those who lost loved ones in this tragic event.
Prime Minister John Key
- Ashburton Guardian