The Canadian fiance of slain Australian tourist Sean McKinnon managed to escape her partner’s killer and hide in bushland after her lover was shot dead in a campervan.
Bianca stayed hidden for half-an-hour before the gunman drove off in the van – with her partner’s body still in the vehicle – from the Te Toto Gorge car park in Ragland, New Zealand, early Friday morning.
Using nothing but the moonlight as her guide, Bianca ran barefoot for two kilometres before she was able to notify authorities of the attack, Daily Telegraph reported.
The Canadian fiance of slain Australian tourist Sean McKinnon (pictured, with Bianca) managed to escape her partner’s killer and hide in bushland after her lover was shot dead in a campervan
Sean McKinnon was shot dead in New Zealand
Bianca had been freedom camping with Mr McKinnon and the pair were sleeping in the van.
She said she and Mr McKinnon were woken by a stranger banging on the window before things turned fatal.
The stranger allegedly managed to smash his way into the van and demanded their keys.
Mr McKinnon was shot multiple times during what Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley concluded was likely a random attack.
The gunman stole the van with his body still inside, and dumped it some 80kms away from where police believe the initial shooting took place.
Police found the van at 8am, hours after the incident took place.
Mr McKinnon’s sister Emmeline McKinnon, 39 , told The Daily Telegraph she struggles when she thinks about her loving brother’s final moments.
‘I feel sheer helplessness. As an older sister I wish I could have been there to defend and protect him,’ she said.
‘It’s a horrible thought to know he was alone when he died.’
A gunman who broke into a campervan and shot dead an Australian tourist while he slept next to his Canadian girlfriend at a remote New Zealand lookout is on the run
Mr McKinnon often detailed his love of camping and travelling on his social media accounts.
At one point, he referred to being in a relationship with his kombi van, and frequently shared photos of his travels in the van.
Mr McKinnon’s friend Julian Smith described him as ‘a loveable, knockabout Aussie guy [who] loved his surfing.’
According to the woman’s Facebook page, the pair got engaged in December 2017, and had been travelling through New Zealand for weeks.
The victim’s fiancee shared an eerie post on Facebook prior to the attack reading ‘we must travel in the direction of our fear’
She is believed to have moved to New Zealand to take up a job as a midwife in Auckland, after moving from her home in Nova Scotia to study in Queensland.
She is believed to have fled the scene on foot, and eventually was able to make contact with police.
She is now under police care. It is not known if she sustained any injuries in the assault.
Detective Pitkethley said ‘we are supporting the female victim who is understandably very shocked and distressed, providing her with the support and welfare that she needs.’
A large-scale manhunt is now underway as police desperately try to track down the gunman, who is believed to still be armed.
Mr McKinnon’s body was found about 3.20am on Friday, on Gordonton Road on the outskirts of Hamilton, New Zealand.
Officers responded to a ‘serious incident’ in nearby Raglan shortly before the grim discovery.
Mr McKinnon’s friend Olivia Haig wrote about the incident and described it as ‘a situation too unreal to comprehend’, news.com.au reported.
‘Our hearts are with Bianca, the family and each other as we attempt to cope and comprehend what a cruel world this can be,’ she wrote.
The woman, who is living and working in New Zealand, alerted police to the attack at 3.20am, and said she and Mr McKinnon were woken by a stranger banging on the window and demanding the keys to the campervan
Another friend, Melissa Harris, knew Mr McKinnon since their time in school.
‘He was such a good guy and always up for a chat, he will be missed so much. Taken way too soon,’ she wrote.
Raglan is known as a popular tourist destination famous for its black sand beaches and great surf, which may have attracted the avid surfer to the region.
It is frequented by campers travelling through the region on their way to or from Auckland, which is just under two hours away.
A couple who were sleeping in a nearby caravan were woken up and spoken to by police at 4.30am regarding the incident.
Police and the Armed Offenders Squad told them they were on the hunt for a shooter who they believe may have killed the unidentified man.
‘We got told to put our hands up, come outside. [Police] pretty much told us what had happened,’ Kyle John-Roebuck Allan told Stuff.
‘Obviously the suspect they were looking for had taken an Apollo wagon… They took us outside, made sure the suspect wasn’t inside our vehicle,’ he said.
After officers searched the van, they moved on toward the Karioi Summit Track entrance, at Te Toto Gorge, where they believe the shooting took place.
Police cars blocked the entrance to the car park when they arrived and covered an area of gravel with tarpaulin.
They are now appealing with the public to come forward with information.
Police want to hear from anyone who may have seen a White 2017 Toyota Hiace ZL registration KWF362 overnight.
During a conference held on Friday afternoon, Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley told reporters he believed the gunman may have confided in someone after the crime.
He and his Canadian girlfriend were asleep in the van in Raglan, New Zealand , when an unknown person attempted to break in about 3.20am on Friday
Officers responded to a ‘serious incident’ in nearby Raglan shortly before the grim discovery, and are still searching for the gunman
‘Someone in the community knows who the offender is and I’m pleading with them to come forward,’ he said.
‘It is likely the offender confided in members of the community.’
A post mortem will be conducted on Friday afternoon.
A spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed they were assisting an Australian family in relation to the incident.
‘The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance, in accordance with the Consular Services Charter, to the family of an Australian man who died in New Zealand,’ a statement read.
Detective Pitkethley said the only information he could provide thus far regarding the offender was that they are searching for a male.
‘It is obviously concerning that we have an armed offender outstanding and I want to assure our Waikato community that our absolutely priority is locating him as soon as possible and holding him to account.
‘As more details become available, we will release that to the public who can assist us in locating him,’ he said.
Anyone who saw the campervan is urged to contact the Hamilton Police on 07 858 6200 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
After officers searched the van, they moved on toward the Karioi Summit Track entrance, at Te Toto Gorge, where they believe the incident first took place. Police cars blocked the entrance to the car park when they arrived and covered an area of gravel with tarpaulin
The Australian man was shot multiple times during the attack and remained in the van after the gunman stole it