Tokoroa shooting: Police name victim
MARYANNE TWENTYMAN AND FLORENCE KERR
Police have named the man shot dead as 67-year-old George Charles Taiaroa from Hamilton.
A contractor has told of his horror at coming across a group of people trying to revive Mr Taiaroa who was shot dead on Tram Road yesterday afternoon.
The man, who gave his name as Josh, said he could see blood coming from Mr Taiaroa's head but could not see his face.
He arrived at the scene just after 3pm and offered assistance but was told the situation was in hand.
Soon after a dark blue vehicle sped up behind him.
"I thought I was going to be rammed," He said. "But it overtook me and headed towards State Highway 1."
The contractor is still working in the area today but said he was quite worried by what had happened.
Police have confirmed Mr Taiaroa was working a stop-go sign at a road diversion controlling traffic over a one-lane bridge on Tram Road.
Another contractor, Doug, said he knew the truck driver who was one of the first people to arrive after Mr Taiaroa was shot.
"He told me he saw the guy fall backwards and then a vehicle take off, and when he got up closer he said the guy had been shot in the head."
Mr Taiaroa's body was removed from the scene this morning for a formal identification and a post mortem will be carried out to establish the cause of death.
Police have spent the night speaking to witnesses and making various enquiries.
From that information police can confirm that shortly after 3pm yesterday the victim was working at the northern end of the bridge and he indicated for a vehicle to stop to enable a logging truck to cross the bridge from the opposite direction.
As the logging truck cleared the bridge the vehicle that had been stopped by the victim crossed the bridge and headed towards Tirohanga Road.
The victim was then seen on the ground, having been shot.
From witness information police are interested in a 4WD-style vehicle.
Police are particularly keen for people who were in the Atiamuri area and its surrounds to think back to 2.30pm to 4pm afternoon and report to police any vehicle seen speeding or driving erratical
Workmates remember 'joker' Georgie
Workmates of Mr Taiaroa gathered this morning to be briefed and offered support by their managers.
It was a sombre gathering, at the Atiamuri Bridge, of more than 30 workers who are understood to be shocked by the man's death, while locals are also angry at the "senseless" killing.
The man known as Georgie had been been living at the Pukeko and Bull Tavern on state highway 1 south of Tokoroa - just minutes from a majorconstruction site at the Atiamuri Bridge redevelopment where he had worked for the past 18 months.
Tavern manager Lisa Campbell said the man was a cheeky guy that was well loved by his colleagues and staff.
"We are absolutely devastated by what has happened, " she said.
"Georgie was a funny guy - a joker.
"The last time I saw him he wanted a steak meal and I didn't want to cook, but he came into the kitchen and gave me cheek to hurry me up."
She said workers had been filtering through the Tavern since yesterday 's shooting and were "absolutely shattered" by this death.
Anyone with information about this shooting is asked to contact Taupo Police on 07 378 6060. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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