Hundreds have gathered outside the Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham to pay tribute to the death of a local dairy worker who was killed overnight.
The slain worker was a young man who was “recently married”.
A manhunt is under way after the suburban shopkeeper was fatally stabbed during an armed robbery, with fellow dairy owners calling it their worst nightmare and a community reeling.
Two hundred people gathered outside the dairy, with floral arrangements being placed outside the store as a police cordon blocked the street.
The crowd was addressed by Dairy and Business Owner chairman Sunny Kaushal who called the news “horrific”.
“Right now, our thoughts are with the family,” said Kaushal, as he spoke from the middle of the street.
“We stand for each other, we are one community and one family.”
A waiata then broke out amongst the crowd.
Efforts were now underway to support the victim’s family, Kaushal said.
”He’s got his elderly parents. They have lost their young child here working in New Zealand,” Kaushal said outside the shop of the slain worker
It’s understood the owners of the dairy were overseas, the dairy was being looked after by a member of the extended family at the time of the attack.
Police were called to the Rose Cottage Superette at the intersection of Haverstock Rd and Fowlds Ave at 8.05pm yesterday after an offender entered the shop armed with a knife and took the cash register.
“We are still working to establish exactly what took place, but at some point during the incident, the dairy worker was allegedly stabbed,” police said in a statement to the media just after 10pm.
The worker suffered critical injuries and was transported to the hospital but died a short time later.
Shocked residents have been leaving floral tributes on the footpath outside the shop, as well as gathering in prayer.
Local dairy owners in Sandringham will be gathering together at 10.30am to stand in solidarity.
One resident who lives near the dairy said they heard the sirens at the end of their driveway and saw armed police, along with the Eagle helicopter and ambulance.
They claim the dairy was being looked after by extended family while the owners were overseas, the resident called the family “lovely”.
“When you live in a suburb like this, you don’t expect things like this to happen but the whole dynamic of Auckland is changing now,” the resident said.
He said in particular, families with kids would be more hesitant to go to the shop following the attack.
“It’s not the place to send your kids to now until things settle down… do they settle down now? I don’t think they do”
Local Nancy Faleolo said the Rose Cottage Superette was where she would send her moko, she said the owners were always friendly and welcoming.
“You felt they were there to help and serve us.”
Faleolo said she spoke to the shop’s owner last month and asked about their safety, whether they were okay given the spate of crime in Auckland over the past year.
“He said yes, that nothing had happened to them and that they were fine - they’ll be in shock.”
Kaushal told the Herald last night’s fatal stabbing incident in Sandringham came as a “big shock” and it had left “us all numb with shock”.
“This country is becoming lawless. This was a law-abiding citizen just doing his job.”
Kaushal who is at the scene this morning said this could have been avoided. He said he had been warning the Government for the past five years about the risks, now he said the worst fear has happened.
“Last night we lost one of us.”
Kaushal said the Government’s soft-on-crime approach has led offenders to have no fear of authorities.
“Dairy shop owners are extremely fearful for their lives. Running a business in this country has become very difficult.
“The Government has blood on its hands. [It] owes answers to the worker’s family.”
Kaushal said the dairy owners were overseas and a worker was looking after the shop for them.
“We know this incident will be extremely concerning and unsettling for our community,” police said. “We are undertaking extensive inquiries to identify and locate the offender.”
Cordons have remained in place overnight and nearby residents can expect to see a significant police presence as police conduct a scene examination, talk to possible witnesses, and conduct area canvasses.
More than a dozen police officers remained at the scene shortly after 9.30 pm, while a specialist police photographer is also conducting a scene examination.
A local resident describes the shop’s owners as “the most beautiful family”.
“This family is literally so loved by this neighbourhood,” they said. “We love these guys, they are our community. This is so utterly shocking and devastating for all of us who live around here.”
Other neighbours were in shock, some were seen shaking their heads.
The Auckland suburb of Sandringham had a large spate of crime between February and March earlier this year, with vape shops being targeted along with liquor stores and dairies.
During this spate, Sandringham business owners were taking drastic measures to protect themselves and their businesses.
Liquor store owner Andy Lin spent three months sleeping in his shop due to being targeted with ramraids and break-ins multiple times. An elderly member of the public was stabbed in June when he stood up for a shopkeeper who was targeted during a robbery.
The business owners tried banding together to collectively hire an overnight security guard, which didn’t go ahead due to a lack of funding.
None of the mitigation measures such as bollards was made available to the businesses through the $6m Crime Prevention Fund, according to Business Association manager Mark Scherer, which in September had only supported five businesses across the country.
“They were known targets,” he said.
The Sandringham Business Association Whatsapp chat was “pretty active” last night. Scherer said the local community leaders are appalled by the news.
“People aren’t just upset anymore, they’re angry. It’s the step too far we thought would happen at some stage. We knew if these violent attacks continued somebody would be killed, now that’s happened.”
Police said they would like to hear from anyone who was in the area around the time of this incident, who may have seen something which could assist them in identifying and locating the offender.