The mystery surrounding last week's Tauranga double homicide intensified yesterday, with a victim's brother claiming he "was in the wrong place at the wrong time" and police declaring the deaths "unrelated to gang conflict" — as the body of a woman was found at a suburban property.
The two men were shot dead in McLaren Falls on Tuesday, and after the woman was found dead in a property in the Tauranga suburb of Brookfield yesterday police issued a statement linking the "domestic incident" death to the McLaren Falls deaths.
They said they believe she had been dead in the Lynwood Place residence for days.
Family hugged and congregated on the front lawn of the Lynwood Place property, with neighbours saying they had heard no noises from the house - but that the residents of the home had only recently moved in.
Four people are now dead - including two men aged 43 and 32 who were shot and killed in a McLaren Falls property last week. Some of those involved were gang members, according to police.
A 25-year-old Bay of Plenty man yesterday appeared before court in Christchurch charged with double murder. Name suppression was given to him and the victims.
Another suspect in the McLaren Falls homicides was gunned down by police in a wild car pursuit shootout in the affluent suburb of Bethlehem on Thursday night.
The brother of one of the McLaren Falls homicide victims spoke to the Herald yesterday, describing his sibling as a "good guy".
"He was in the wrong place at the wrong time," the brother said.
"At the moment we're just trying to get my brother back, get our boy back and do the right thing by him. So we're concentrating on him and not what we want to say and don't want to say."
The man said he thinks the residents of Tauranga area had been left shocked by the deaths.
"Tauranga's pretty solemn out there today," he said.
Police yesterday seemed to confirm the McLaren Falls homicides were not a direct result of the tit-for-tat gun violence in Tauranga that has plagued the city over the past year, with the incursion of Australian gangs.
"Based on information available, the incidents appear to be unrelated to gang conflict although police are aware the incidents have involved gang members," District Commander Andy McGregor said.
It is understood the 43-year-old victim had only become a grandfather days before his death.
It is also understood a 9-year-old boy who fled the scene of the McLaren Falls murder, was the son of the girlfriend of one of the two victims.
The other McLaren Falls victim's sister took to social media on Friday asking for family and friends to post photos of her brother to remember him and "how loved he was".
One of those photos show the victim wearing a Head Hunters T-shirt, with several other reports provided to the Herald that he was an associate of the gang.
Yesterday, the sister updated again with the post: "We finally have our boy home!! Thank you for all the messages".
Police across Tauranga were highly visible in recent days, with several reports yesterday from the public of police carrying guns.
Police however confirmed that general arming of all officers across the city is not in place.
Numerous comments on social media also lamented the escalating violence in the city, and the effect on the public of such a heightened police presence.
"Tauranga, a place not to visit," one person wrote in the comments of a Tauranga gun violence news piece.
Another resident wrote. "Oh my god this is a horror story ... what's happened to beautiful Tauranga?"