The gun used in an attack on an Australian man and his Canadian fiancée in New Zealand last week has not yet been recovered, according to the New Zealand police.
A statement posted to the national police force’s website Sunday said locating the firearm “remains a priority for police.”
The statement, attributed to Insp. Graham Pitkethley, said police are gathering forensic evidence in Waikato, an area on New Zealand’s North Island.
He said officers have also been conducting patrols in the Waikato communities of Raglan and Gordonton “to ensure the public is safe and feels safe.”
Sean Mckinnon, 33, was killed in the early hours Friday at a scenic spot near the coastal town of Raglan. His fiancée, Bianca Buckley, 32, of Halifax, managed to escape.
A 23-year-old man was taken into custody within 24 hours of the attack. The suspect, whose name hasn’t been made public, faces a number of charges, including murder, aggravated robbery and threats to kill.
New Zealand police asking for public’s help
The statement said police and the coroner involved with the case are working to ensure that Mckinnon is returned to his family, in accordance with their wishes.
Mckinnon’s family and Buckley continue to be supported by police and victim services, and they have requested privacy, the statement said.
Global Affairs Canada also confirmed Friday that consular officers have offered assistance to Buckley.
In Sunday’s statement, Pitkethley said police are looking for anyone who may have seen hitchhikers in the Gordonton-Whitikahu areas during the daylight hours on Friday.
He also said police would like to hear from anyone who travelled the route that day and may have dashcam footage.
The suspect made a court appearance Saturday.
Woman ‘very shocked and distressed’ by ordeal
Mckinnon and Buckley were sleeping inside a van early Friday morning when someone approached the vehicle just after 3 a.m. local time, according to police.
Police said a gunman fired a number of shots into the van, injuring Mckinnon. Buckley managed to escape and run away, and she called police.
Pitkethley said the suspect stole the van after the shooting and drove away with Mckinnon still inside. Mckinnon was later found dead in the van near Gordonton, about 75 kilometres from where the couple were attacked.
Police found the vehicle at 8 a.m. It wasn’t immediately clear if Mckinnon had died from the wounds he received in the initial attack or had been subject to further violence.
At a news conference last week, Pitkethley said Buckley is “very shocked and distressed,” and police were providing her with support after the “tragic incident.”
He described the attack as “random.”
According to her Facebook profile, Buckley began work as a midwife in Auckland in January.
Before moving to New Zealand, she was a surfer in Nova Scotia, according to Beth Amiro, president of the Surfing Association of Nova Scotia.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Mckinnon was one of six siblings who grew up in the small farming community of Nirranda, Australia, about 250 kilometres southwest of Melbourne.
His older sister, Emmeline Mckinnon, told the newspaper that the couple met while travelling in South America and shared a passion for surfing and travel. She described her brother as “a very gentle sort of soul with a good sense of humour.”
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