Shooting and apparent suicide stun community

BELINDA FEEK AND JENNA LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013
DANIEL MCNEILL.
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GUNMAN: Daniel McNeil.

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It's unclear what the final words were before Daniel McNeill fired two shots into the body of an innocent man.

But the rounds - one to the abdomen, the other to the jaw - sent 20-year-old Jamie Ryan flying backwards into the lounge of the small farming cottage he lived in on Mowbray Rd, Waharoa.

The Waikato Times yesterday spoke to a witness who was one of the first to the scene.

He said Mr Ryan had just got home with "good friend" and former Te Aroha High School buddy, Laura John, after a trip to Matamata.

It was just after 11pm, when they pulled up.

But as Mr Ryan got out of the car, Mr McNeill pulled down the driveway in his ute.

It's believed Mr McNeill - who was known to have suffered from depression - was drunk.

He had chosen Thursday night as the time to hit Mr Ryan up about his involvement with his ex-girlfriend.

Mr McNeill was always possessive of Miss John. But more so after their September break up, the witness said.

It's understood he wanted to find out the nature of Mr Ryan's relationship with Miss John.

He was carrying a rifle - believed to be a 30/30 - as he climbed from his car to confront Mr Ryan on the balcony.

Mr Ryan must have had time to open the ranchslider door during their conversation, and appeared to have sensed Mr McNeill was about to pull the trigger.

He turned and tried to run, but in that millisecond of movement, Mr McNeill fired two shots.

Mr Ryan fell to the lounge floor.

Mr McNeill got back in his ute and fled. He then went back to his flat on Tower Rd - about 5km away - and was later found dead. The death is not considered suspicious.

When the shooting occurred, Miss John frantically called for help; both 111 and then her dad in nearby Te Aroha, her hometown. They turned up in that order to the scene.

The witness described the scene as "horrible", with medical crews describing Mr Ryan's injuries as "horrific".

But the witness told the Times he was confident Mr Ryan would pull through, although yesterday afternoon the young man was in a critical but stable condition in intensive care.

Whomever Miss John was, or is, in a relationship could have irked Mr McNeill. Postings to her Facebook page give an insight to the problems she could have been experiencing.

"January 17: ova temperamental males, they worse than females i swear, there's only a few gud c.... left around this joint, hands up if your 1." (sic)

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"January 19: Stuck between a rock and a hard place,hmmm, wat to do, wat to do!" (sic)

Police yesterday said Miss John called 111 saying her boyfriend had been shot, but the Times' source dismissed that and said they were just good friends and had been since high school.

Miss John was described as being "a mess" after the Thursday night incident, and is understood to be coming to terms with what happened.

The witness said the death of Mr McNeill was a waste of a good, young life.

He was a good guy who a lot of people struggle to believe could have done such a thing. The only clue was that he couldn't let go, and was very possessive of Miss John.

Friends of Mr McNeill's family had yesterday gathered at the family home near Matamata.

Mr McNeill's father said he did not wish to discuss the matter with the media.

The shooting had also stunned the community.

Many neighbours declined to comment yesterday, with others claiming not to have heard anything.

Sandie Davis, a chef at Workman's Cafe in Matamata, was shocked.

"It's the crime that you hear of in the big city, not little old Matamata," she said.

Matamata Clay Target Gun Club president Graham Payze said he was "definitely" surprised by the shooting.

Mr Payze said McNeill had attended the club at the same time as Mr Payze's children and performed well in the Matamata College shooting team.

"He wasn't the sort of kid you'd expect something like this from ... anything can happen when there's a woman involved, I guess."

He said the club would help those involved as best it could.

Police yesterday carried out scene examinations of both incidents and were now investigating for the Coroner.

- Waikato Times

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