The 34-year-old man fatally stabbed after an alleged robbery on Wednesday night was Janak Patel of Hamilton.
Patel was attacked at the Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham, central Auckland, at about 8pm and died later in hospital. Police have launched a homicide investigation.
Police are still hunting a lone man in dark clothing and released CCTV photos on Thursday night of the alleged offender.
Patel was an employee of the store who was minding the shop while the owners were on holiday in India.
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A post-mortem examination is being conducted, Detective Inspector Scott Beard said on Friday.
Police are also continuing to ask for anyone who may have seen the altercation to come forward or who believes they saw the offender on foot, before or after the incident.
“We also continue to appeal to those in the community who know who the offender is, to do the right thing and contact us,” Beard said.
What we know about the victim
Patel was a 34-year-old man who was working at the shop while the owners were away on holiday in India.
He was newly married and in the prime of his life, according to the president of the Dairy and Business Owners Group Sunny Kaushal.
“The family is absolutely devastated by their loss.
“His wife is so young, she’s traumatized. She hasn’t spoken since Wednesday night,” Kaushal said.
The victim’s family had recently come over to New Zealand for a holiday, he said.
Sandringham resident Mark Ward said on Tuesday night when he was visiting the dairy he saw someone new behind the counter.
“I asked whether the family had gone back to India – everyone knows and loves them around here.
“And the young man said he was just thinking about the dairy while they were on holiday,” Ward said.
Sandringham locals gather and sing outside Rose Cottage Superette after a fatal stabbing at the dairy in central Auckland on Wednesday night.
What we know about the incident
At around 8pm on Wednesday night, a lone offender entered the dairy in what was believed to be a robbery, according to Beard.
Stuff has interviewed a family whose security system captured footage of the suspected killer, before and after the fatal attack.
According to them, footage shows the offender walking into the dairy carrying a brown paper bag.
It is believed that the man walked up Duncan Ave on his way to the dairy.
The shop’s till was taken during the robbery and then the 34-year-old worker was stabbed, suffering critical injuries.
Police said the dairy worker was stabbed multiple times, upon approaching the offender after the robbery. The offender had walked 100m down a residential street and dropped the stolen till in a garbage bin.
Police said the victim then approached the offender where a fight took place, where the offender stabbed the victim several times.
The attacker left with the wheelie bin, but the bleeding victim was able to make his way back 100m to the dairy and call emergency services.
Nobody else was in the shop at the time of the incident.
It’s understood the attacker was in the dairy for less than a minute.
It is possible that the man was walking around the area before and after the offense, police said.
Police were called and cordons were set up around the Haverstock Rd and Fowlds Ave intersection, as the worker was rushed to the hospital. He died a short time later, police said.
What we know about the suspect
Police are looking for a man wearing a dark top, black cap, black trackpants with white writing down the left leg and a black-and-white bandanna on his face.
Police believe the word “Raiders” was printed on his clothing.
“We want to reassure people that we are working hard to identify the offender and hold him to account,” Beard said.
They said it captured a man in a black hoodie, with a black baseball cap, and black track pants with white writing down the side, getting out of a black car.
They also said the suspect appeared to be holding a brown bag.
According to the family, the suspect walked up and down the road outside the dairy, before going into a phone box.
“He clearly wasn’t a crazy drunk person,” they said.
“He was purposefully waiting for a couple of women to leave the dairy,” they said.
Beard said the police are focused on finding the suspect.
What we know about the investigation
While very little about the investigation has been released by the police, they believe the man was working alone.
“This was a lone offender who went into the dairy and committed what we believe to be a robbery,” Beard said.
“We still want to hear from anyone in the area who has CCTV or who was driving around.
“What has happened is a tragedy.”
So far no weapon has been found.
What we know about the community reaction
Early on Thursday morning, while the police were conducting a scene examination, bouquets of flowers from mourners were being left outside the shop under a gray sky and heavy rain.
Just before 9am, Mere-Hinekete Hohaia, her partner, Danny Sialafau, and their son, Mahara Sialafau, came to sing Whakaaria Mai (How Great Thou Art) in te reo as a tribute to the man who died.
“We have lived in Sandringham my son’s whole life, and [the dairy owner] and his family have been a huge rock.
Hundreds of people showed up to hear Kaushal speak outside the Auckland supermarket.
Speaking to the media at lunchtime on Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who owns a home in the same suburb, said the incident was an “absolute tragedy”.
“I know the community and it is a tight-knit one… It is devastating to see what has happened. Our job as government is to prevent these kinds of events from occurring, and to support the police.”
Ardern said the government acknowledged a “particular targeting of dairies and supermarkets”.
“One act is one too many, one robbery is one too many… We will keep looking for what more we can do.”