Rarotonga shooting victim's Tokoroa family in shock video

Mary Dean died after a shooting in Rarotonga.

Mary Dean died after a shooting in Rarotonga.

New Zealand family of the woman shot dead by an escaped prisoner in the Cook Islands want to bring her young son home safe.

Mary Dean and her boyfriend were found dead of suspected gunshot wounds in the village of Titikaveka in Rarotonga on Wednesday. 

Mary's estranged partner, Chris Rimamotu has reportedly been found dead after a police hunt. The 41-year-old is the father of her nine-year-old son and had escaped from prison in the Pacific Island nation.


Cook Island police are in a standoff with escaped prisoner, Chris Rimamotu, suspected of shooting two people dead yesterday. Reporter Florence Syme-Buchanan is at the scene.

Rimamotu was serving a seven-year sentence for the abduction and sexual assault of a six-year-old girl. He fled from a group of prisoners who were on a community work scheme clearing properties under the care of two wardens. 

READ MORE: Island standoff ends with gunman dead after police surrounded hilltop house: report 

Police launched a manhunt for the fugitive, believed to be armed with a .22 rifle. 

He is believed to have shot the pair in his home district on the southern part of the island. 

After a standoff with police, Rimamotu was eventually found holed-up alone in a  house  on a hilltop near the the village of Vaimaanga, on the southern tip of the island on Thursday morning.

Family in Mary's South Waikato hometown of Tokoroa received news of the shooting from an extended family member in Rarotonga about 6pm on Wednesday, family spokesperson Patrick Tavai said.

Her two daughters, aged 18 and 21 and a son all from a previous relationship, and a sister were among family gathering at the family home in Tokoroa in shock and anger, he said.

"Obviously everyone is very traumatised, we are a very close knit family so everybody is just upset.

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"There's confusion and a lot of anger and grief. We gathered last night and could only look at each other and get angry."

Details about what unfolded in the area of Titikaveka, 10km from the southern part of the island, were sketchy, and family were getting fed updates from the Cook Island police Facebook site and liaising with cousins on the Island. 

"From what we know he intentionally went to see her - he obviously knew where they lived."

With no immediate family in the Cook Islands, Tavai said the main concern was to reach Mary's nine-year-old son. 

"Ensuring he is kept safe and brought back to New Zealand, that's the concern. We think he is safe but we're not sure if he is with police - I'm sure police have got him covered as he could be a target as well."

Family were planning to travel to Rarotonga and retrieve the boy but had waited until Rimamotu was captured and in custody.

"I think they need to wait until police have done what they need to do and then go over."

He said Mary and Rimamotu were together for "some time". They met in Rarotonga and Mary had decided to make the island her permanent home.

Together the couple had travelled back to see family, but Tavai did not believe Rimamotu was a popular choice. 

"She's been there for a few years, we couldn't figure out why, I guess because of Chris."

"He was never a liked person - he didn't figure very much in anybody's estimation of him, but Mary did her own thing.

"I guess if anything she got caught up in relationships that didn't do her any favours. From time to time we make bad choices and this one came back to bite her."

Mary had grown up in Tokoroa where Tavai said she was the life of the party.

"She was a lovely girl. She wasn't a loud person, quiet and humble - she terrorised this place.

Last year Mary travelled home to celebrate her oldest son's graduation from university. It was the last time her family saw her alive.

"She's got two lovely daughters and a son who has just begun teaching at primary school."

"We are just waiting to get more information about what should happen."

Plans were underway to bring Mary's body home.​

 - Stuff

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