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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

Two reported dead in Rarotonga shooting, gunman on the run

Two people have been shot and reportedly killed in Rarotonga and the gunman is on the loose.

Cook Islands journalist Flo Syme-Buchanan said the victims were the ex-wife of the alleged offender and her new partner, both of whom were understood to have died as a result of gunshot wounds. Six hours after the shooting police still would not confirm the victims were dead.

Cook Islands police said they were looking for Chris Rimamotu, the alleged gunman. He was armed and considered dangerous.

“We urge members of the public not to approach this person if located,” police said.

Rimamotu had been on the loose with a boy believed to be his nine-year old son, travelling around Rarotonga in a stolen vehicle. Syme-Buchanan said she had unconfirmed reports the boy was now in police care but police would not confirm that. They also would not confirm reports the vehicle was a silver ute.

Police did say they had five teams searching various areas on Rarotonga for Rimamotu.

According to police spokesman Senior Sergeant Maeva Kirikava, police were receiving continuous calls of sightings of the shooter in the town and airport areas, about 15 kilometres from where police believe the victims were shot.

Roadblocks were not set up by police until four hours after the shooting, which occurred in Vaimaanga. The first warning was made by police through Facebook, Syme-Buchanan said.

Rimamotu, 41, was serving a seven-year sentence for the abduction and sexual assault of a six-year old girl.

He escaped from a group of prisoners who were on a community work scheme clearing properties. Overseeing that group were two prison wardens.

Rimamotu was regularly allowed out of prison with other inmates as part of that scheme.

The family of the girl Rimamotu abducted were said to have left their home, as Rimamotu would know their address.

The Cook Island News said up to 30 police were involved in the search. They had been searching around the Titikaveka area, on Rarotonga's south coast. Just before 8pm Wednesday shots had been reported in Nikao, on the north coast.

A person living in Nikao not far from the prison said the “mood here is a little strange”.

In a Facebook message theys said: "When the news first came out the message spread fast through txt and on Facebook warning everyone and urging people to pass on the message.

“At the end of the local news broadcast at 8:30pm a police representative spoke about the current situation and were still in pursuit of the assailant.

“It's quiet, neighbours lights are off and the dogs are quiet which is strange here.

“On the lockdown atm for the past hour and a half. Pray for us and him too and the two victims.”

A person staying near where the shootings took place also posted on Facebook, saying:

“We stay up 30 meters from the crime scene... happened to go down and saw a body on the ground covered.”

Local woman Gigi Arikha said the escaped prisoner would be at her father-in-law's house on a daily basis before going to prison.

“We were concerned he might try to go there to hide.”

New Zealand Police said they were in contact with Cook Islands officials, but had not yet been asked to help.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said the High Commission in Rarotonga also understood Cook Islands police had not asked for any foreign help.


Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 2:12 PM. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article


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