A woman whose body was found after armed police descended on a house outside Dunedin on Tuesday died from a single gunshot to her head.

Police said Sharon Diane Comerford, 54, died at her Coast Rd home in Seacliff. The man with whom she shared a volatile on-off relationship was found with serious gunshot wounds and a firearm nearby.

The 59-year-old man remained in a serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit at Dunedin Hospital last night.

Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis said the man was a suspect: "We've got to look and prove evidentially he was responsible for her murder."


The man was a licensed firearms owner, Det Snr Sgt Inglis said. However, police would not comment on whether firearms had earlier been seized from the man, or on his criminal history.

The Otago Daily Times understands Ms Comerford's family have been informed of the results of an autopsy, which showed she died instantly from the gunshot.

Friends and family of Ms Comerford are reeling following the news of her death.

A friend of Ms Comerford, who had known her for almost 20 years, said: "She was always friendly and she always had a compliment for me. She was just a lovely person."

She added: "She was very creative. She did very well when she went to art school. She was into her ceramics."

Speculation as to the cause of her death had been upsetting, she said.

"It's a small community and people should look after each other. If they [Seacliff residents] were aware of raised voices or guns they should have called the police straight away and maybe this wouldn't have happened.

"Why didn't they call the police earlier? Sharon might have been alive today if they had."


A family member of Ms Comerford posted online that she was still struggling to comprehend the Seacliff woman's death.

"So sorry you have been taken so early,'' the family member said. "But I know you're in a better place. Your talents were unrealised. Such a loss."

Friends of the pair earlier told the ODT they were in a volatile on-off relationship punctuated by alcohol-fuelled arguments.

Police were called on Friday, but refused to respond, a friend of the pair said.