Australia: Sean McKinnon's fiancee ran barefoot for her life - PressFrom - Australia
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AustraliaSean McKinnon's fiancee ran barefoot for her life

14:11  16 august  2019
14:11  16 august  2019 Source:   theage.com.au

'They shared a passion for travel': Sean McKinnon's family remember 'gentle soul'

'They shared a passion for travel': Sean McKinnon's family remember 'gentle soul' Sean McKinnon was doing what he loved - travelling and surfing with his fiancee Bianca Buckley - when he was killed by a gunman who broke into their campervan in New Zealand. How To Get A Home Loan With 5% Deposit Find out more on Finder Ad Finder.com.au Mr McKinnon, 33, was remembered as a gentle soul who would never harm anyone, as his devastated family prepared to fly to New Zealand on Friday afternoon to bring him home. His killer, about whom police know very little, is still on the run.

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As Sean McKinnon lay shot in a campervan, his fiancee ran for her life, barefoot, along a remote gravel road on New Zealand's north-west coast.

The couple had been asleep in their rented campervan near the popular beach town of Raglan, south of Auckland, when a gunman appeared at their window in the early hours of Friday morning.

The man demanded the keys to the van before firing a "number of shots".

Mr McKinnon - a 33-year-old well-loved surfer, musician and keen traveller, who grew up around Port Campbell in Victoria's south-west - was killed, but his Canadian fiancee Bianca Buckley, 32, managed to escape.

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Man charged over Aussie tourist death A man has been arrested and charged with murder over the caravan shooting death of an Australian tourist Sean McKinnon in a remote part of New Zealand. How To Get A Home Loan With 5% Deposit Find out more on Finder Ad Finder.com.au A 23-year-old was taken into custody around 11pm last night after police executed a search warrant at a local rural address. "This scene is currently still under guard and will be subject to a forensic examination later on today," Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley told reporters.

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She ran for more than two kilometres in the darkness, through rugged bush, in search for help, before reaching a house where she called police.

Sean McKinnon's fiancee ran barefoot for her life © Nine News As Sean Mckinnon lay shot in a campervan, his fiancee Bianca Buckley ran for her life, barefoot. Sean McKinnon's fiancee ran barefoot for her life © Nine News A file image of Bianca Buckley and Sean McKinnon.

Meanwhile, the gunman drove the campervan for an hour, with Mr McKinnon's body still inside, before dumping it about 80 kilometres away in Gordonton, near Hamilton.

"We are supporting the female victim who is understandably very shocked and distressed, providing her with the support and welfare that she needs," Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said on Friday afternoon.

"We are still working through injuries she may or may not have obtained during the ordeal. The terrain where the vehicle was stolen is quite rough with a lot of bush around."

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As a teenager, I loved to run barefoot on the Connecticut beaches, splashing through the waves. A few years later, I often ran without shoes while training for the college cross-country season (Too bad Budd is better known for her fateful collision with Decker in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic 3000 race.

The gunman responsible for what Detective Inspector Pitkethley described as a random, "absolutely tragic" attack was still at large on Friday night.

A massive manhunt was under way across the Waikato region, around Hamilton, with police saying they were "working through a number of leads".

"This is a tragic incident. Inquiries indicate this is a random attack," Detective Inspector Pitkethley said.

Raglan is a well-known surfing spot for big-wave surfers. Mr McKinnon loved to the surf big swells off Port Campbell, not far from his hometown of Nirranda.

The couple had parked their rented Apollo campervan in the Te Toto Gorge track carpark, not far from the water.

Mr McKinnon's friend, Julian Smith, said his mate was a "lovable, knockabout Aussie guy".

"He loved to surf big waves down the coast. He charged five-metre waves," Mr Smith said.

It is understood Ms Buckley had started a new job in Auckland as a midwife in January and Mr McKinnon had joined her for a holiday about two weeks ago.

'He was good to me': Housemate of New Zealand man accused of shooting dead Australian tourist in a campervan reveals his shock at allegations - as victim's fiancee braves court to eyeball alleged gunman

'He was good to me': Housemate of New Zealand man accused of shooting dead Australian tourist in a campervan reveals his shock at allegations - as victim's fiancee braves court to eyeball alleged gunman A flatmate and friend of the New Zealand man accused of shooting dead Australian tourist Sean McKinnon in a campervan has expressed his shock over the allegations. © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Sean McKinnon (right) had been travelling New Zealand in a campervan with his Canadian fiancee Bianca Buckley (left) when his life was cut short early on Friday morning The alleged shooter, 23, appeared in Hamilton District Court on Saturday charged with the murder of the Australian, 33, who had been travelling New Zealand in a campervan with his Canadian fiancee Bianca Buckley.

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Police asked for anyone who saw the couple's 2017 white Toyota Hiace ZL van between the hours of 2am and 8am on Friday local time to contact police.

But a description of the gunman was not forthcoming.

"We are seeking a male in regard to it. What I can say is that someone out there in the community knows who this offender is so I'm asking them to contact police immediately," Detective Inspector Pitkethley said.

Cafe owner Colin Chung said Raglan's rocky coastline provided some of the best surf in New Zealand, but it was off the beaten track for tourists.

He heard helicopters in the air about 6.30am on Friday, but thought it might have been about a boat in trouble.

"It stayed in the air for a long time, maybe 45 minutes," he said.

Resident Baillie Buchanan said she was driving from Hamilton to Waihi Beach when she came across police surrounding the abandoned campervan on Gordonton Road about 8.50am local time (6.50am AEST).

"[I] saw heaps of police holding guns blocking off a rural road and in between was a tourist campervan that was to the side of the road," she said.

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Last year three tourists were shot at while surfing at nearby Te Maika point, while a fisherman was also allegedly fired upon in the area.

The terrifying attack on Mr McKinnon and Ms Buckley happened almost a month to the day of the murder of New South Wales man Lucas Fowler, who was shot dead alongside his American girlfriend while they were travelling in a van in Canada. Their suspected killers Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18 - who are also believed to have shot dead a third person - were found dead after a country-wide manhunt.

with Stuff, AAP

Australian Sean McKinnon's fiancee focusing on time together before 'tragic' NZ shooting.
New Zealand police say Bianca Buckley is "focused on gathering her thoughts on the memories she has with Sean", as authorities release the body of the 33-year-old Australian allegedly murdered by a man demanding the key to the couple's campervan.

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