Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Victim in Rarotonga double shooting to be brought back to NZ

Cook Islands Police confirmed late this morning that their stand-off with escaped prisoner Chris Rimamotu of Titikaveka had come to an end, but refused to elaborate. Photo / Supplied
Cook Islands Police confirmed late this morning that their stand-off with escaped prisoner Chris Rimamotu of Titikaveka had come to an end, but refused to elaborate. Photo / Supplied

The woman killed in the double shooting in Rarotonga is to be brought back to New Zealand for her family to say their last goodbyes.

Mary Dean is believed to have been shot by her ex-partner, Chris Rimamotu, 41, after he escaped from prison yesterday and managed to get his hands on a .22-calibre rifle.

A person close to the family told NZME Dean's body would be brought back to Tokoroa where her family is staying.

Local reports in the Cook Island News suggest the gunman accused of killing Dean and her current partner may have also fatally shot himself, but officials have so far refused to confirm this.

Earlier this morning police had negotiated with the fugitive, who'd managed to evade capture overnight.

He'd been caught in a house in the southern district of Vaimaanga, on the island.

After shots were fired police surrounded the property and negotiations went on for a couple of hours.

Late this morning Cook Islands police confirmed the stand-off with Rimamotu had come to an end, but refused to elaborate on how it ended.

Police did say the situation had been contained and the community was now safe.

"This is still a live investigation so there will not be any release of information until the investigation is complete."

The police service said the next update would come from the Commissioner of Police later today.

"However, we still urge common sense with securing your homes."

About 30 police officers this morning scoured the area around Vaimaanga, 3km from the double shooting in the Titikaveka district.

A witness, who had been helping police with the search, was there when Rimamotu was found about 9am local time.

"Five shots rang out and the cops retreated for cover. Police commissioner was talking to him and trying to get him out," he said.

Earlier Facebook posts from the police urged the public to have patience as the stand-off continued and reiterated the stay-clear warning.

"We are just as concerned as the rest of you and our boys and girls are right in the danger zone," said the police service. "We ask that you bear with us."

Cook Islands police inspector John Strickland could not say how Rimamotu escaped from prison or ended up armed with a weapon, but said it was not a police-issued one.

"I can't put that into detail, we will have to conduct a thorough investigation. Because the matter is still fresh I don't think it's appropriate for me to say too much."

Strickland also refuted earlier reports that Rimamotu had taken a child.

"I'd like to confirm the child is safe. There was never a child with him, it was just one of those comments from someone."

But despite Strickland's assertions a child was never involved, a police update seemed to indicate there had been concerns over a young boy's safety.

"For the concerned family out there, the boy is confirmed to be safe and arrangements have been made to keep him safe," the update on the Cook Islands Police Service page said. "Please do not ask anymore about the boy, no further information will be made available on this topic for his sake."

Relatives have also told NZME the boy in question was Rimamotu's son.

Strickland said Rimamotu had a previous conviction and been sentenced to seven years jail, on December 3 last year, for kidnapping a "very young kid".

He said he was unable to divulge further details related to the offence.

The public have criticised the length of time it took police to put an alert out after Rimamotu escaped but Strickland said it had taken some time to confirm what had happened.

"We weren't aware it was an escaped prisoner."

Meanwhile, Strickland said security at the prison had been tightened.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906 (Palmerston North and Levin)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

- NZ Herald

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