Backyard shooting: Teen victim named

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 12:28 14/01/2013

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It will be at least two weeks before police decide whether to lay charges after a teenager was shot in the heart and killed at a house in South Auckland at the weekend.

Shaun Townsley, 18, of Takanini, strayed into the line of fire while a group of friends were drinking and using airguns to take pot shots at cans in their backyard on Saturday night.

He died at Middlemore Hospital the next morning. An autopsy showed Townsley was hit in the heart.

The driveway to the house in Bettina Pl, Manurewa, was cordoned off yesterday as police investigated how the death happened.

Detective Inspector Dave Lynch said the scene examination was complete and it was now a matter of conducting follow-up interviews with witnesses to reconstruct exactly what happened.

All those involved had been co-operative, he said.

Lynch warned airguns were powerful weapons that had the potential to kill or seriously injure.

"This tragedy should serve as a painful reminder that these weapons are not toys and need to be used in a controlled environment by responsible people with appropriate target awareness and knowledge of their power."

The group were using two types of guns - a Crosman 357 Magnum .177 calibre air pistol and a Crosman Nitro Venom .177 calibre break-barrel air rifle, which is believed to be the weapon used for the fatal shot.

Crosman markets the rifle, which has a spring piston firing mechanism, as a hunting weapon capable of firing at up to 305m per second.

Anyone 18 years or older can own and use an airgun without a firearms licence.

In 2010 the law surrounding certain airguns changed after they were used in the murders of police officer Don Wilkinson and Auckland man Keith Kahi.

Owners now require a firearms licence to own pre-charged pneumatic-powered guns.

AIRGUN SHOOTINGS

July 2010: Keith Kahi, 44, dies in east Auckland after being shot seven times by a friend with an airgun. Glenn McDonald was sentenced to life in prison.

September 2008: Undercover police officer Sergeant Don Wilkinson shot dead trying to install a tracking device outside a suspected P lab in south Auckland. John Skinner was sentenced to life in prison.

May 2007: A 7-year-old Napier girl is critically injured at her home. Her father was charged with discharging an air rifle, causing injury.

April 2007: A 6-year-old Kawakawa girl hit in chest when a shot fired by her 9-year-old brother ricochets off a rock. Slug grazes her heart.

January 2007: Zachary Smith, 9, of Christchurch, survives shooting himself in the stomach at point-blank range while hunting unsupervised on a farm with his 6-year-old brother.

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December 2006: Ben Yorston, 13, of Feilding, critically injured when a friend's jammed airgun goes off. Slug enters brain through eye.

April 2006: A 9-year-old Amberley girl shot by 15-year-old brother. Slug lodges in her forehead. October 2004: An 18-year-old Wellington youth was hit in ear and jaw in Makara by friends shooting possums with high-powered air rifle.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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