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Survivor of Whangarei shooting speaks out for first time

Newshub logoNewshub 14/06/2018 Michael Morrah

The sole survivor of a shooting rampage in Whangarei that killed two of his friends has spoken about the incident for the first time.

Contractor Jeff Pipe described gunman Quinn Patterson as an angry, selfish individual who thought he had authority over the house he rented.

He wanted to speak out to raise concerns about the reckless way in which one of Patterson's mates left firearms at his property.

The mudflats and sheltered waters off the coast of Whangarei's Onerahi provide solace and distraction for Mr Pipe, but the chaos and trauma of July 26 2017 is never far from his mind.

"I know I'm very lucky," he says. "I can't understand how I got out of there alive."

It was supposed to be a regular day on the job.

Mr Pipe, a maintenance contractor, accompanied his friends, mother and daughter property inspectors Wendy Campbell-Rodgers and Natanya Campbell, to visit a rental property.

Wendy was a close friend who was just doing her job, he says.

"She's a wonderful person, both of them are. Didn't mean to cause harm to anyone, the pair of them."

The job was to install some smoke alarms. But waiting inside the house was tenant Patterson - paranoid, resentful and heavily armed.

Patterson had become angry that his reclusive lifestyle was being eroded.

He'd had several recent visits, after the new owner put property managers in charge of the house.

When the trio arrived, they found Patterson had barricaded the house. A graphic based on a sketch Mr Pipe gave Newshub shows what they encountered - thick plastic netting was nailed across the front, and a corrugated iron gate had been set up blocking access to the front door.

Shortly after knocking on the gate, Wendy and Natanya would be dead. Bullets hit Mr Pipe too, but he managed to escape in his red work truck. In his mind, he should be dead too.

"I can't understand why I'm not. I really can't. It was horrible."

Mr Pipe was shot in the arm and as he ran to his truck, bullets struck the vehicle's windows, one hitting his back. 

"I was very fortunate that not too much damage was done. The recovery wasn't too long."

As police learned of the unfolding tragedy, they surrounded the house. Patterson, cornered and outnumbered, then set the house on fire while he was still inside.

Mr Pipe says he still finds it hard to wrap his head around the events of that day.

"Mentally, yeah I struggle with it. I struggle with it quite big time."

Patterson's friend Michael Hayes has pleaded guilty to supplying firearms to Patterson, after he left some of his guns at Patterson's place after doing some target practice.

Patterson had acquired his own stash of guns - not just the ones Hayes left there.

There's no evidence one of Hayes guns was used to fire the fatal shots, and a court has said he won't be blamed for the deaths when sentenced

Patterson had set up a shooting range on the property with a large white table to rest on as he shot at various targets on the frame of an old children's swing.

He did not have a gun licence and Mr Pipe says it was irresponsible of Hayes to leave his guns there.

"Absolutely reckless and dangerous," he says.

One of the guns Hayes left at Patterson's house was a Chinese-made AK47, allegedly for clay bird shooting.

"You don't leave those lying around at somebody else's place," says Mr Pipe.

"You don't go clay bird shooting with AK47s."

Hayes also admitted unlawfully possessing three guns like the AK - E category weapons he was not licenced to have.

He had a background in the military and Mr Pipe says considering this, he should have known better.

"I feel as if Hayes was not concerned about the gun laws at all for him to do this."

As for Patterson, who also died that day, Mr Pipe had met him before the shootings

"He was a horrible, angry, selfish person, and yeah I did meet him a number of times beforehand."

Mr Pipe keeps a photo of his friends in a handmade wooden box next to the watch he was wearing that day. Remarkably, the watch stopping ticking at the exact time of the shooting.

It's a reminder of the people he held so dear and of that terrible day - a day he says he's doing his best to overcome.

Hayes says he accepts responsibility for leaving guns at Patterson's place and "should have never trusted him".

"In hindsight, it was reckless," he told Newshub.

Hayes says he previously worked for Patterson and considered him a friend.

He also says he locked the guns in a cabinet when he left the property.

Natanya Campbell leaves behind four young girls aged between 3 to 19 years old. A Givealittle page has been set up to support the family.

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