Police: Random shooting unlikely

SHOT DEAD: George Charles Taiaroa, 67, was working at the traffic control point near Tokoroa when he was shot dead.
SHOT DEAD: George Charles Taiaroa, 67, was working at the traffic control point near Tokoroa when he was shot dead.

A week ago today, George Taiaroa was shot dead on a remote South Waikato road but, as yet, no-one has been arrested for pulling the trigger.

Police continue to work through a long list of suspects, checking their alibis, hoping that the process of elimination will lead them to the killer.

However, as of last night, nobody has been arrested.

Mr Taiaroa was shot dead while operating a stop-go sign on the one-lane bridge on Tram Rd, Atiamuri, about 3.10pm last Tuesday.

Detective Inspector Mark Loper, who is heading the investigation, spent time with Mr Taiaroa's family yesterday, delving into his past for any clues and working to establish a motive.

"Random, motiveless homicides are incredibly rare in New Zealand; experience and crime science tells us that crime is not random," he said. "Until we establish a motive it is impossible to answer the question ‘why George'?"

Mr Loper said it was possible the killer did not know Mr Taiaroa and that the tragedy may have been "prompted by some event on the roadway".

"What we do know is that people will rarely kill without motivation and, if we can identify that motivation, then we will be a step closer to catching George's killer."

Police are being cautious with the information they release, unable to put rumours to rest as they investigate all leads.

"With every homicide investigation there will inevitably be rumour and speculation mixed up with fact," Mr Loper said.

"Police will not be entering into commentary on specific pieces of information that may or may not sit within the investigation, as to do so could jeopardise its progress.

"Suffice to say the team welcome all information and whether it is provided as rumour or fact, its relevance to the inquiry will be assessed."

Police have sought video footage from cab-mounted cameras from inside trucks that were in the area around the time of the shooting.

They also want farmers with security cameras to come forward as the killer may have used rural and forest roads when they fled.

Police said speculation that the killer might have been driving a navy blue Toyota Hilux utility, stolen from celebrity chef Cameron Petley in July last year, was incorrect.

Instead, they are interested in sightings of a blue four-wheel-drive, similar to a Jeep Cherokee.

The team of more than 30 officers is focusing on a short time between 2.30pm and about 3.20pm last Tuesday, and want to speak with everyone who crossed the one-way bridge in Tram Rd during this time.

Criminologist Greg Newbold said the killing appeared more like an "organised hit" than a random "thrill shooting".

He said this kind of killing was "very rare" and he had not heard of anything like it since Crown witness Christopher Crean was shot dead in front of his wife, and children, as revenge for giving evidence against the Black Power gang in 1996.

"It's starting to look more like an organised hit because they haven't found the car and the lack of evidence suggests it's more organised," he said.

"If it was a random shooting, they would have left clues everywhere."

He said it was highly likely that more than one person was involved.


Waikato Times