A witness has described the terrifying moment he saw his friend, Robert Courtney, gunned down with four shots at a Darwin scrap recycling yard.

Courtney, 52, from New Zealand, was one of four men shot dead in separate locations in Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory on Tuesday. A woman survived with injuries.

Ben Hoffman, 45, has been arrested in relation to the shootings and is expected to be charged with murder.

Courtney's housemate, Johnny Reid, who lives at his workplace in Jolly St, Woolner, a light industrial area of Darwin, said he had been watching television in his unit when he heard pounding on the door on Tuesday night.

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"[An armed man] busted in and looked right at me," Reid told the NT News. "I looked at him and thought, 'F***, this is it'. I thought I was dead for sure.

"I asked him what he was doing but he went right past me and shot my mate."

Reid said four rounds were shot at Courtney.

Darwin Recycling manager Peter Boden, who lives nearby, said he saw the alleged gunman enter the unit, but didn't realise something was wrong until he heard the shots.

He raced to help, calling the police and breaking down doors until he found Reid's home, but it was too late.

"I went in and found the body," he said.

Courtney worked as a security guard at Mindil Beach Casino Resort.

Resort manager Mark Bennett said Courtney was a "valued member of our security team and we extend out deepest sympathies to his family and friends at this difficult time".

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was "aware of the death of a New Zealander in Darwin, and is in contact with local authorities. For privacy reasons no further information will be provided."

Police on the scene.
Police on the scene.

Hoffmann was on parole and wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet when he allegedly used a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun to kill four men and seriously injure a woman on Tuesday evening.

It's alleged Hoffman used a stolen shot gun to carry out the shooting spree.

Terrorism has been ruled out as a contributing factor.

Hoffman had been working for a roofing company, which told him to find a new job after he repeatedly failed to show up for work, news.com.au reported.

Northern Territory Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said Hoffmann had recently served more than a year in prison.

"Based on what we do know, it is highly likely that two of those victims were known to him and the other two were not," Kershaw told reporters.

Witnesses and NT Police say the gunman was looking for a man named "Alex" when the shooting began. Police later established "Alex" was interstate at the time.

Ben Hoffman has been arrested and charged with the incident. Photo / Supplied
Ben Hoffman has been arrested and charged with the incident. Photo / Supplied

When asked about the relationship between the accused and Alex, Kershaw said: "There may or may not have been an issue relating to a female involved in this, so there was a number of issues that were actually avenues of inquiry that we are following in relation to that."