A relative of one of the men shot on a central Auckland building site says his cousin was a good man who was kind to his family.
Tupuga Sipiliano, 44, of Wattle Downs and Solomona To’oto’o, 45, of Manurewa, were at work at a downtown Auckland construction site on Thursday morning when Matu Reid stormed the building and ran riot with a shotgun.
The pair were formally named on Sunday by police, who said their families were grieving the loss of their loved ones.
One of Sipiliano’s cousins, speaking to the Herald from Samoa, was shocked by the news and said he was a good man and a kind person to his family and children.
Other family members and friends of Sipiliano shared heartfelt tributes to him online.
“Gone too soon. Rest in peace,” they posted.
Manukau councillor Alf Filipaina shared his condolences with the men’s immediate and extended families and said the community will always be there to support them.
Filipaina said he has no doubt at all that the family will come together to ensure their loved ones have a good send-off.
“It just brings them together. It really does, and it’s just so, so important for this to happen.”
“We also share their loss, and you know, look, that’s really the key thing, is to make sure that we do that - if there’s any [request] for support, we need to support them as they go through this.”
Detective Superintendent Ross McKay said on Sunday police were able to name them as formal identification processes have been completed. The pair’s bodies were removed from the scene on Friday.
“Police extend sincere condolences to the families,” McKay said Sunday.
Reid was on home detention at the time of the killing but had dispensation to travel and work at the 21-level One Queen St building where his victims were shot dead and 10 others, including two police officers, were injured. Reid died after an exchange of gunfire with police.
An eyewitness said Reid’s attack on Thursday appeared targeted.
“I can remember him yelling, ‘So, what you going to do to me now ... what can you do?’” the worker, who had only been working at that construction site for less than a month, told the Herald.
“I don’t know, but the two people he shot, [it] was like he wanted to kill those two people. I feel like he was too angry because he was yelling out to people; because when he came to my room, he left slow, and he could have shot randomly if he was looking for someone.
“The way he was yelling was like he came with a purpose. It all happened within five minutes.”
Reid was sentenced to five months’ home detention on March 2021 for a violent assault where he struck and strangled a woman, breaking a bone in her neck. That attack was carried out while he was serving a sentence of supervision following an earlier assault.
A relative of the woman he assaulted said they always told family members they feared he would never be rehabilitated.
“We gave him a home, all the love a family does - he was brought into the family as a family person, and this is what happened.”
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Bar Association yesterday said there had been anger and “misinformed criticism” directed at the judiciary over Reid’s home detention sentence, which was concerning and “dangerous”.
The judge in the case, Judge Stephen Bonnar, had been “unfairly maligned”, the association’s president Maria Dew said.
“As well as the personal difficulties this creates for the judge and his family, the wider implications of the undermining of our justice system through ill-informed comment on social media is also worrying,” she said.
Katie Harris is an Auckland-based journalist who covers social issues including sexual assault, workplace misconduct, crime and justice. She joined the Herald in 2020.