Second car sought in liquor store murder (+ video, photos)

By Elizabeth Binning, Alanah Eriksen, Angela Gregory, Alanah May Eriksen

South Auckland police are looking for a second car they believe may have been involved in a brutal armed robbery in the suburb of Manurewa on Saturday.

Detective Inspector Jim Gallagher said police would also like to speak to four women who entered the shop after the shooting.

They are now seeking sightings of a dark sedan car seen speeding from the scene, as well as a late model white four-wheeled-drive, possible a Ford Explorer which was in the area at the time.

Mr Singh, aged 30, was shot at close range in his Manurewa store despite holding his hands in the air and complying with the robber's demands. He died in Middlemore Hospital this morning.

Police confirmed they are searching for four people involved in the callous shooting of a liquor store owner on Saturday night.

This afternoon the police were defending the time it took for them to arrive at the Manurewa liquor shop where Navtej Singh was shot at point blank range in the chest.

Police officers had to wait for a supervising officer to arm them and then direct them as they entered the liquor shop.

Witnesses to the shooting told One News that police took almost an hour to reach the scene, despite the armed robbers leaving soon after Mr Singh was shot.

Mr Gallagher said the officers were following the correct procedure.

"It may be something that we can look at," Mr Gallagher said.

He said there is no permanently deployed Armed Offenders Squad and staff have to be directed by a supervising officer at the site.

Mr Gallagher said there is "no doubt" that the response would be reviewed.

Police also revealed a member of the public "scraped the bottom of the barrel" by walked into the liquor store where Mr Singh lay dying and stole a box of alco-pops.

Mr Jim Gallagher said police are not sure what the man saw but are encouraging him to return to the bottle shop and reimburse the liquor shop.

He said the man saw an "opportunity".

"We'd like to meet him. We don't know what he saw. I don't think Mr Singh was visible from the customer side of the counter," Mr Gallagher said.

"Maybe he's intending to pay, I don't know, but we'd like to meet him," Mr Gallagher said.

Mr Gallagher said a scene examination of the liquor shop has been carried out today and 25 officers are now on the case.

He said police are also looking at possible links between Saturday night's robbery and other aggravated robberies that have recently taken place in the area.

The raid and the cold-blooded shooting were captured by the security camera at the Riverton Liquor shop in Riverton Drive.

The video images show three hooded men, one holding a gun, entering just after 9 o'clock.

As two of the robbers helped themselves to boxes of beer, the armed man pointed a low-calibre .22 firearm at Mr Singh and his colleague Gurwinder Singh, who were standing behind the counter.

The footage shows Gurwinder Singh walking around the side of the counter and holding his arms up in the air as if trying to reason with the armed man.

As the gunman swings the weapon towards Navtej Singh behind the counter, Gurwinder Singh escapes out the back of the shop.

Moments later Navtej Singh is shot in the chest.

As the shop owner falls to the ground, the gunman reaches behind the counter and takes the cash drawer with help from the other robbers.

Mr Gallagher said the people involved will have gone home with a lot of alcohol. he said someone will know something and should not hesitate in calling police.

Last night, neighbours of the store were reluctant to speak for fear of retribution from gangs, which they say are rife in the area.

Teenagers hanging around the shop told the Herald they weren't surprised when they heard about the shooting.

"It was just another day," said one. "There's always street gangs hanging around here. There's always fights in this street."

Gangs had been to the block of shops since the shooting and tagged them with their respective signs.

The teenager said he thought he knew who the robbers were but he did not want to "snitch".

Another teenager said he was in the area soon after the shooting and saw the victim on a stretcher being put into the ambulance.

"He had his hand on his chest, covering where he got shot. He didn't say anything, just lay there quietly."

A neighbour, who buys liquor from the shop every week, said the victim was "really nice. I got to know him quite well because I went there all the time ... When I heard, I felt sick. I couldn't sleep all night."

The hold-up is the latest in a series of attacks on Indian store workers. In January, Krishna Naidu, 22, was stabbed as he worked at his parents' superette in Clendon.

Concerned community leaders held a meeting with Police Minister Annette King afterwards.

Auckland Indian Association president Harshad Patel last night said Indians happened to own a lot of dairies, service stations and liquor stores in Auckland.

"It's not racial," he said. The violence was aimed at the stores where Indians worked, not at Indians themselves.

Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Pizzini last night described the latest shooting as "brutal and callous", especially given the co-owners were compliant with the robbers' demands.

"Anybody who thinks they know who these three are, we are really appealing for them to come forward. Give us a ring in confidence, because they need to be stopped. They need to be brought to justice before anything else happens."

The man who fired the gun had a chequered headpiece under his hood and a cloth over his face.

The other two robbers had details on their sweatshirts, one some sort of name brand and the other a white Maori-style pattern.

Mr Pizzini said it was hard to estimate their ages but at least one was possibly in his twenties.

The gunman was about 183cm (6 feet) tall. The other two were shorter.

The firearm used had a wooden stock and a dark full-length barrel with a small sight at the end.

Mr Pizzini said the police had carried out door-to-door inquiries, and while there were no "red hot" leads detectives were investigating possible links to other robberies in the area.

The police were keen to hear from anyone who might have seen the robbers or their dark-coloured four-door sedan, either parked near the shop before the raid or speeding way from Riverton Drive afterwards.

Manurewa MP George Hawkins this afternoon met with Mr Singh's family members, who he says are is getting good support from many people in the community, but are understandably struggling with the death.

Mr Singh was married, with three young children.

Mr Hawkins says he will take the community's concerns about the number of robberies in the area to the Acting Police Commissioner.

- with NZPA

- NZ Herald

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