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Manhunt for Christchurch teen’s killer continues


A shooter remains on the run following the death of a teen killed in a shooting while attending a 15th birthday party.

Connor Whitehead, 16, died after he was shot on Friday night while attending a party on Heaphy Place, in the Christchurch suburb of Casebrook.

It’s understood no one has been charged in relation to the homicide inquiry at this stage.

Whitehead’s father, James Whitehead, told Stuff on Saturday that his son was enjoying himself with friends “making the most of the time with his boys”, at a girl’s party.

“There was a commotion outside the party, but Connor wasn’t aware of what was going on, he was outside getting some air. The next thing his mates saw was people crowding around him, and he was on the ground.

Connor Whitehead, the 16-year-old fatally shot at a party late on Friday.

SUPPLIED

Connor Whitehead, the 16-year-old fatally shot at a party late on Friday.

“Connor wasn’t involved in whatever was going on outside the party, he hadn’t even interacted with the person responsible.”

The 16-year-old Burnside High School student messaged his father earlier in the day while he was at work to ask if he could go to a party and stay the night at a friend’s.

“Yep, just be safe”, his dad replied.

“Okay I will thanks,” Connor responded.

When James Whitehead returned home from work about 5.30pm his son was getting ready with a couple of friends. Connor asked if he and his friends could stay at his house following the party, which was fine.

About 7pm the group went to leave.

“I said ‘have a good time mate, I love you’.

The 16-year-old Burnside High School student messaged his father earlier in the day while he was at work to ask if he could go to a party and stay the night at a friend’s.

SUPPLIED

The 16-year-old Burnside High School student messaged his father earlier in the day while he was at work to ask if he could go to a party and stay the night at a friend’s.

“He said ‘I love you too’, he headed out the door and that was the last time I saw him.”

About 12.30am on Saturday Whitehead heard someone at the front door.

“I thought that was weird because he’s got a key for the backdoor and thought maybe he’d left the key behind, but there were two policemen standing there.”

The officers asked if he was Connor’s dad and checked what school he went to and how old he was. They then asked him to sit down before informing him a young man had been shot and killed, and they believed it was his son.

Whitehead did not believe them at first until he received a message from a friend who lived on Heaphy Place, who said they had heard gunshots and that someone was dead.

“My brain was still processing what the policeman told me, and then when I read that it all just hit like a tonne of bricks.

“I literally went numb, I felt my fingers go numb. It was like I couldn’t feel anything. I’m just sitting there and I looked at my hands, I was like this can’t be true.”

Members of a forensics team search the area on Saturday.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Members of a forensics team search the area on Saturday.

Connor, one of four siblings, was a “beloved son, brother, and friend to everyone who knew him”, Whitehead said.

“He’s quiet until you get to know him, and then you could not shut him up. He was a kind, talented and deeply loyal young man and the magnitude of this senseless loss hasn’t begun to sink in.”

For his 16th birthday in September Whitehead bought Connor a microphone and a set of headphones as he wanted to start making his own music. The two had plans to make a recording studio in their shed.

“He had such a bright future ahead of him,” Whitehead said.

“It’s still just disbelief.. It’s just so unnecessary. It’s a colossal tragedy, a senseless tragedy. It didn’t need to happen.”

His message to the person responsible was to “do the right thing”.

“They’ve taken a shining light out of our lives. Connor’s a really special guy and he’s just not with us any more, it’s just not fair, he had nothing to do with it.”

The scene examination was carried out for much of Saturday.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

The scene examination was carried out for much of Saturday.

Police could be seen guarding and taking photographs of a car on Matsons Ave in Papanui early on Saturday.

They confirmed it was “a vehicle of interest” in relation to the shooting. It was understood the car had previously been reported stolen.

Anyone with information should call 105 and quote the event number P048523046 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, he said.



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