Nova Scotia

Gun used in deadly New Zealand attack on Canadian woman's fiancé still missing, police say

The gun used in an attack on an Australian man and his Canadian fiancée in New Zealand last week has not yet been recovered, according to the New Zealand police.

Bianca Buckley, 32, of Halifax escaped attacker, who killed Australian Sean Mckinnon

Bianca Buckley, originally from Halifax, and her Australian fiancé, Sean Mckinnon, were attacked in New Zealand. Buckley escaped but Mckinnon was killed. (Bianca Buckley/Facebook)

The gun used in an attack on an Australian man and his Canadian fiancée in New Zealand last week has not yet been recovered, according to the New Zealand police.

A statement posted to the national police force's website Sunday said locating the firearm "remains a priority for police."

The statement, attributed to Insp. Graham Pitkethley, said police are gathering forensic evidence in Waikato, an area on New Zealand's North Island.

He said officers have also been conducting patrols in the Waikato communities of Raglan and Gordonton "to ensure the public is safe and feels safe."

Sean Mckinnon, 33, was killed in the early hours Friday at a scenic spot near the coastal town of Raglan. His fiancée, Bianca Buckley, 32, of Halifax, managed to escape.

A 23-year-old man was taken into custody within 24 hours of the attack. The suspect, whose name hasn't been made public, faces a number of charges, including murder, aggravated robbery and threats to kill.

New Zealand police asking for public's help

A post-mortem exam was completed over the weekend and McKinnon's body has been returned to his family, police said on Sunday.

Mckinnon's family and Buckley continue to be supported by police and victim services, and they have requested privacy, the statement said. 

Police collect and photograph evidence in the carpark of the Te Toto Gorge lookout on Whaanga Rd, south of Raglan, New Zealand, on Friday. (Alan Gibson/New Zealand Herald via Associated Press)

Global Affairs Canada also confirmed Friday that consular officers have offered assistance to Buckley.

In Sunday's statement, Pitkethley said police are looking for anyone who may have seen hitchhikers in the Gordonton-Whitikahu areas during the daylight hours on Friday.

He also said police would like to hear from anyone who travelled the route that day and may have dashcam footage.

The suspect made a court appearance Saturday.

Woman 'very shocked and distressed' by ordeal

Mckinnon and Buckley were sleeping inside a van early Friday morning when someone approached the vehicle just after 3 a.m. local time, according to police.

Police said a gunman fired a number of shots into the van, injuring Mckinnon. Buckley managed to escape and run away, and she called police.

Pitkethley said the suspect stole the van after the shooting and drove away with Mckinnon still inside. Mckinnon was later found dead in the van near Gordonton, about 75 kilometres from where the couple were attacked.

Police found the vehicle at 8 a.m. It wasn't immediately clear if Mckinnon had died from the wounds he received in the initial attack or had been subject to further violence.

New Zealand police found the van at 8 a.m. local time about 75 kilometres away with Mckinnon's body inside. (TVNZ)

At a news conference last week, Pitkethley said Buckley is "very shocked and distressed," and police were providing her with support after the "tragic incident."

He described the attack as "random."

According to her Facebook profile, Buckley began work as a midwife in Auckland in January.

Before moving to New Zealand, she was a surfer in Nova Scotia, according to Beth Amiro, president of the Surfing Association of Nova Scotia.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Mckinnon was one of six siblings who grew up in the small farming community of Nirranda, Australia, about 250 kilometres southwest of Melbourne. 

His older sister, Emmeline Mckinnon, told the newspaper that the couple met while travelling in South America and shared a passion for surfing and travel. She described her brother as "a very gentle sort of soul with a good sense of humour."


With files from The Canadian Press and CBC News