Child dies in New Zealand after suffering gunshot wounds

A TWO-YEAR-OLD girl shot dead in her New Zealand home yesterday was a "Daddy's girl" who loved spending time with her father and his friends.

"She was a smart little girl who loved to come kick it with the boys," family friend Sione Tatafu said.

"She was Daddy's little girl."

Emergency services were called to the Favona Rd, Auckland address just before midday yesterday.

Neighbours reported hearing a loud bang - like gunfire - around that time, followed by hysterical screaming.

"Someone was crying really loudly. It was very sad sobbing," one neighbour said.

Yesterday, police confirmed a little girl was shot dead with a sawn-off shotgun -- classified as a pistol under the Arms Act.

A gun was found at the address and a 26-year-old man will appear in Manukau District Court this morning, charged with unlawful possession of a pistol.

Police are yet to confirm whether or not the man was related to the girl.

Detective Inspector Faa Va'aelua said further charges will be considered at the conclusion of the investigation and police were still trying to establish whether or not the death was an accident.

No one who lived at the house held a firearms licence, he said.

Under the Arms Act, a person found to be in unlawful possession of a pistol can face up to three years in prison and a $4000 fine.

The fatal shooting follows calls to give police greater search powers to get illegal weapons out of the hands of gangs.

In March, Parliament's law and order committee unanimously backed an inquiry into illegal firearms in New Zealand.

The incident yesterday happened as the family were moving out of the house, said Mr Tatafu, who grew up in Onehunga with the girl's father.

He said both sides of the girl's large, extended family were devastated.

"They're just trying to keep it together at the moment."

At least 15 police cars were outside the property most of yesterday.

A large cordon surrounded the house, and extended about 100m to either side.

The opposite side of the busy road was also cordoned off -- guarded by police.

A woman who lived nearby said the mother lived at the white, stone house with her partner.

She said she had four children -- a 7-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy, a girl "aged 2 or 3" and a baby, born at the end of last year.

She said the woman's partner was the father of the two youngest children.

Another resident of the street said she heard a "loud explosion" and then sounds of someone sobbing.

"I heard a very loud bang and then some people were getting on the next-door berm. Someone was crying really loudly. It was very sad sobbing," she told the Herald.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she and several neighbours had come out of their houses following the noises.

"I've never heard that sort of noise before -- it was so very loud.

"There was someone sitting on the steps there with another child. And there was that sobbing, that really loud sobbing."

The woman said they did not know the family who lived at the property.

"When we go past, there's always toys and things out the front, so I presume they had children."

One neighbour said the family had lived in the house for about six months. "They were notorious for having very rowdy parties."

Another neighbour said they'd had trouble with their landlord, and had been planning on moving to a new home the same day their little girl was shot dead. "They were all packed up and ready to go," she said.

In the early evening, crying and wailing could be heard coming from the home as the little girl's body was removed in a hearse.

- NZ Herald

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