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New Zealand: Firing at Sundown

2 minute read

Dusk was settling over the seaside South Island village of Aramoana (pop. 52) last week when a volley of shots ruptured the evening calm. Almost simultaneously, an orange glow lit the darkening sky as fire licked at the house of Garry Holden, 38, a naturopath who lived with his two daughters at the far end of the village. Many of the locals interrupted their dinners to investigate.

At the blazing Holden home they ran into a hail of gunfire that cut down the first five arrivals. The gunman was David Gray, 33, an unemployed farmhand and next-door neighbor of the Holdens. Earlier he had picked an argument with Holden, possibly over the latter’s mistreatment of his dog and rabbits. Gray then killed Holden and his elder daughter, 11, and torched the house. As terrified villagers tried to flee, Gray fired at them with five high-powered rifles kept in his kitchen, then began to stalk neighbors’ homes. Among those killed was the first policeman to arrive at the scene.

After a 23-hour siege, tear gas finally flushed Gray from a house in which he had holed up. He emerged shooting and was killed by police gunfire. The toll: 14 dead, more than a quarter of Aramoana’s population, and three injured.

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