27 Jul 2017

Whangarei killer had been imprisoned for attacking officer

7:25 pm on 27 July 2017

The man who shot and killed two women in Whangarei was a troublesome, aggressive tenant who was known to the police, and viciously attacked a dog handler in 1983.

Quinn Patterson

Quinn Patterson, who shot and killed two women yesterday. Photo: LinkedIn

Quinn Patterson, aged in his 50's, opened fire on 60-year-old property manager Wendy Campbell and her 37-year-old daughter Natanya when they arrived at his rental home yesterday to install smoke alarms.

Patterson died - either in an exchange of gunfire with police or in the fire that engulfed the house shortly afterwards - following an all-day siege.

Human remains were recovered from the scene today, but police said the remains were badly burnt and formal identification would take some time.

The contractor the victims took with them was also shot, but managed to escape and raise the alarm.

The bodies of the two women were removed from the rural property today and a kaumatua blessed the scene.

'I stopped being a policeman that night, and I was just a victim'

Former police dog handler Bruce Howat told Checkpoint he was stabbed several times by Patterson in an attack 34 years ago.

He said he lost a lung, and had to relive the events in four or five court trials before Patterson was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison for greivous bodily harm - reduced from attempted murder. It was a sentence Patterson never served in full.

That night he had been working a burglary at Garden Place in Hamilton in 1983.

He said the offenders had given themselves up and he was heading back to the station when he saw a guy who "didn't look like he was up to much good".

"There was McDonald's party hats with graffiti written all over them. To be honest it was my last night of night shift and I just wanted to get all my paper work tidied up ... and get off in time and have some days off."

He said Patterson passed him the pen that was in his hand and there was no indication of trouble brewing, then the man took off down the hill.

"Then Cara (the dog) arrived and she went to the bushes on my right and started barking, so I went in too."

He said the events were hard to talk about, but it was all coming back to him.

"It just unfolds as I start to tell it, that's why. He stabbed me under the bushes, let's call it quits at that.

He said Patterson stabbed him with a 13-inch bowie knife, and the police surgeon said there was a minimum of eight stab wounds.

Mr Howat managed to overpower Patterson, got the knife off him and threw it away. He'd lost movement in his left arm, but still managed to handcuff his attacker.

"I got down to less than half a pint of blood before the cavalry arrived and got me to hospital."

Gunman called sister to say goodbye

He was known to police, but seemed to have avoided serious issues in the three decades since prison.

Mr Patterson's sister Gloria told Checkpoint he had been fairly fine until recently, when his mental state began to deteriorate. He had been seeing counsellors.

She said a friend had a news app on her phone.

"She got a beep on her phone ... she said 'oh Gloria I don't think you want to know this', because she knew where Quinn lived. So she showed it to me. As soon as she showed it to me I knew that was it."

She said Patterson called her beforehand to say goodbye.

"I didn't get to speak to him though, he just left me a message on my phone."

"I would be the closest person to him. We talked at least once a week, for about an hour.

"It was mostly about him so that's how I knew what was going on in his life really.

"Quite a bit of a loner, part of that is his past has made him into a bit of a loner. But he really was improving himself until about a year ago.

She said he had previously spoken of ending his life.

"I became aware of it about four weeks ago, that he was thinking then of suicide.

"He talked a bit about the possibility of cousellors and the last few times he'd been some counsellors and there didn't seem to be any more to go in that direction."

She said she never thought he would harm anyone else.

"I'd just like to say to the other family that I'm really sorry that they've been involved in this tragedy."

A doting grandma, a much-loved wife and friend, a popular colleague

Ms Campbell's best friend Julie Pepper, also a property developer, was at work yesterday morning when the police arrived with the terrible news.

"I think every property manager in town will be feeling sick to their stomach today. Most of the property managers, we all know each other and it's a fairly tight knit community."

Ms Pepper said Patterson had been giving her friend grief since she took over the property.

He'd had visits from the police, and because of his hostile behaviour and from what Ms Campbell saw at the house she suspected he was a drug user.

"We had discussed that property a few times and the issues she was having and she had indicated the he was trying to intimidate her but her attitude was such that 'I won't be intimidated', you know."

Had she known Patterson was capable of murder Ms Campbell would never have gone near the property, Ms Pepper said.

She said she spent the rest of her day at the police station supporting Ms Campbell's devastated husband and helping police contact family members.

Ms Campbell's daughter Natanya had four children: the oldest at university, the youngest just three years old.

She had just begun working for her mother and step-father's company, 'Seek and Find' as a trainee property manager.

Ms Pepper said her friend Wendy was a doting grandma, a much-loved wife and friend, and a popular colleague.

"It was unbelievable and devastating and at the same time you just go really numb and you don't really know how to react.

"You don't expect to get up in the morning and go to your routine job and have your life ended like that, so no, it hasn't sunk in."

Violent tenants becoming more common

Ms Pepper said she was threatened by an aggressive tenant just last week - just one of the risks of the job, she said.

"Yeah, I guess there has been an increase, every property manager can probably tell you a story.

"It does come with the job. I've had cases of abuse from tenants. It's just something that you do come across ... not all that often, back of everyone's mind."

Another property manager, Robert Raymond, has sent his staff on a self-defence course.

He said he had three confrontations this year where he'd had to leave to defuse the situation, the most recent just three weeks ago during a property inspection.

"She was right in my face, I backed away from that [to] defuse it and we left the property.

"She was throwing things ... she grabbed a rubbish bin lid, chucked it at my car, ripped off the letterbox."

Yet another agent said the problem of violent tenants had become worse with the surge in methamphetamine use in the north and in Auckland.