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Manurewa airgun death fuelled by alcohol

Sunday 13 Jan 2013 5:48 p.m.

A teenager is dead and his friend may be charged, after shooting him with an airgun.

The incident happened in the Auckland suburb of Manurewa. Police say alcohol was involved.

Five boys, a bit of fun and one fatal mistake – with just a single gunshot aimed at a tin can, a quiet South Auckland cul-de-sac has been turned on its head.

“I heard a bit of a noise and thought there was a party going on,” says neighbour Gerard Williamson.

It was a party that was fuelled by alcohol. Police say mixing that with a .177 calibre, nitro-venom, break-barrel air rifle made tragedy likely.

A metal pellet pierced the 18-year-old victim's side and entered his heart.

“It really serves as a big warning to everybody that these weapon aren't toys,” says Detective Inspector Dave Lynch. “They need to be treated as though they are firearms and used by responsible people and certainly not mixed with alcohol.”

3 News spoke to neighbours who say they are in a state of shock. After performing CPR, they successfully resuscitated the young man and thought he'd be all right. But a short time later he died on arrival at Middlemore Hospital.

Residents in Bettina Place say it's time for a clamp down on who can buy airguns.

Four years ago, Auckland police officer Don Wilkinson died after being shot in the chest by a .22 calibre air rifle.

As a result, there was a law change on all pre-charged pneumatic firearms.

“That requires that anyone who owns them has to have a license and go through that mountain safety check,” says Michael Dowling of the Council of Licensed Firearm Owners.

But police say last night's less powerful air rifle falls outside that law.

“We believe with these airguns, anyone that is 18 years of age or above is entitled to buy and legally possess and use,” says Det Insp Lynch.

But mixing that use with alcohol could now land at least one of the victim's friends in court.

3 News

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