Man charged after toddler shot to death

Newstalk ZB Staff ,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 Jun 2016, 12:41pm

Man charged after toddler shot to death

Newstalk ZB Staff ,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 Jun 2016, 12:41pm

UPDATED 5.31pm: A 26-year-old man has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm after a 2-year-old girl was shot dead in Mangere this morning.

LISTEN ABOVE: Detective Inspector Faa Va’aelua addresses the media at a stand up 

Police said the man was taken into police custody today in relation to the girl’s death at a house in Favona Rd.

He will appear in Manukau District Court tomorrow morning facing charge of unlawful possession of a pistol.

Under the Firearms Act, sawn-off shotguns are classed as pistols.

At a press conference earlier today, Detective Inspector Faa Va’aelua confirmed the weapon involved was a shotgun.

He said further charges will be considered at the conclusion of the investigation.

Police would not release the girl’s name, or the identity of the man charged, because the girl’s extended family were yet to be notified.

Her name would be released tomorrow afternoon.

Detective Inspector Va’aelua told media inquiries were ongoing as to how the firearm was obtained.

Mr Va’aelua said the police investigation was in its early stages and Police were still trying to establish whether or not the death was accidental.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the child’s family and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

Family members wept and sang as the little girl's body was removed in a hearse. 

Sione Tatafu grew up with the father of the 2-year-old girl.

He said she was a tomboy.

"She was a smart little girl who loves to come kick it with the boys," he said.

"She was daddy's little girl."

Mr Tatafu, who grew up in Onehunga with the girl's father, said the family was moving house today.

He said both sides of the family were upset and shocked.

"They're just trying to keep it together at the moment." 

A resident on the street said she heard a "loud explosion'' shortly before the sound of someone sobbing.

"I heard a very loud bang and then some people were getting on the next-door berm. Someone was crying really loudly...it was very sad sobbing and things,'' she told the Herald.

The woman - who did not want to be named - said she and several neighbours had come out of their houses following the what they thought was a gun shot.

"I've never heard that sort of noise before - it was so very loud.

"There was someone sitting on the steps there with another child, I think. And there was that sobbing, that really loud sobbing."

The woman said they did not know the family who lived at the property.

"When we go past, there's always toys and things out the front, so I presume they had children.''

Another woman who lived nearby said a mother lived at the house with her partner.

She was a mother of four children: a 7-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy, a girl aged about three and a baby born at the end of last year.

At the scene, police officers can be seen knocking on doors and speaking with residents on the footpath.

More than a dozen police cars line the busy main road and a large cordon has been put up.