Gunman kills dairy worker

By Louisa Cleave

Police have named the man gunned down in an Auckland dairy last night as 58 year-old Bhagubhai Vaghela.


A customer found Mr Vaghela, of Mt Eden, lying on the floor of the Uptown Minimart in New North Rd at 9.20pm and called an ambulance. Attempts to revive him were not successful.

Since last night police have been canvassing residents living in the apartments in the same building as the shop.


Detective Inspector Bernie Hollewand says Mr Vaghela - whose body remains at the scene this morning - was shot.


A post-mortem examination will be carried out later today.


Mr Hollewand said there was no immediately obvious motive for the shooting.


Police and ESR staff are at the scene this morning conducting a thorough examination of the premises.


Staff working on the case want anyone who might have seen or heard anything unusual in the area last night to contact the Auckland City CIB.


Police earlier confirmed a car had been stolen from a nearby street around the time of the shooting.

"We are looking into that as well," said Mr Hollewand.

Police said they had not known of any previous problems at the dairy.

The dairy is one of four shops in the complex, 83 Uptown, and is open seven days a week from 7am to 10pm.

The other shops in the building are the Garden Restaurant, which serves Chinese food, Euro Cafe and the Computer Lounge.

A three-level apartment complex sits above the shops, with an entrance around the corner from the dairy.

Residents were stopped by police and questioned as they arrived and left.

Last night apartment resident Peter Leyden returned home from dinner to be confronted by the police cordon.

Mr Leyden, 31, said he was a regular customer at the mini mart and recognised Mr Vaghela by the description of his age.

He was a nice person and his death was a "bolt out of the blue", said Mr Leyden.

An older man and two younger men shared duties at the shop.

"[The victim] was there most nights. They get to know you. If you're short of change, they're happy to let you come back the next day," he said.

Mr Leyden said there had been vehicle break-ins and thefts but no serious crime in the area.

A small group of diners at the Garden Restaurant, two doors along from the dairy, were kept inside the restaurant and spoken to by police.

A resident of Rendall Place, which was cordoned off by police, said the shop was run by "nice people" and an older man worked the weekend shifts.

Mr Hollewand said the man's body was expected to remain in the shop overnight.

Last year a former King Cobra gang member was sentenced to preventive detention for shooting a liquor store worker at point-blank range during a robbery.

Gustavis William Job leaned over the counter and shot Paul Taueli in the neck as he lay defenceless on the floor of Russell Rd Liquor in Manurewa in May 2003.

A jury found Job guilty of robbing the store and wounding with intent but not guilty of attempted murder.

In October 1993 a gang of youths beat West Auckland shopkeeper Navin Govind to death with softball bats and attacked his 11-year-old son, Sanjay.

Three of them - John Patrick Ruka, Arnold James Leefe and Hector Kelly - were convicted of his murder and received life sentences the following year.

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