Teenager killed in Christchurch shooting: Father shares their last conversation

The grieving father of a Christchurch teen fatally shot at a 15th birthday has spoken of their last conversation.

James Whitehead told Stuff his 16-year-old son, Connor Whitehead, was enjoying time with friends “making the most of the time with his boys”, at a girl’s party on Friday night.

“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,” he said.

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

Stuff reported the 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 said.

“Okay I will thanks,” Connor replied.

When James Whitehead returned home from work about 5.30pm his son was getting ready with some friends. Connor asked if he and his friends were able to stay at his house following the party, which Whitehead said was fine.

At around 7pm the group went to leave.

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

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

Whitehead told Stuff his message to the person responsible was to “do the right thing”.

Earlier, detective inspector Michael Ford said police responded to reports of a firearms incident at 11.03pm, but upon arrival the 16-year-old was dead.

A homicide investigation and scene examination is under way.

A police spokeswoman said a vehicle of interest has also been found on Matsons Ave in Papanui, and police are appealing to anyone who was in the area at the time to come forward.

Cavendish Rd resident Bev, who preferred to use only her first name, lives across the road from the incident, which she believed was on Heaphy Place.

She said she had been woken up at midnight last night by her partner due to police in the street.

“We watched for a while and a few teenagers were arrested and taken away in cop cars. Lots of swearing and yelling,” she said.

“I doubt the gunshot would have been heard by many due to the fireworks.”

She said there was a “subdued feeling” in the street this morning.

“Everyone is in shock that someone actually died. Such a shame. My thoughts go out to the families of all those affected.”

She had lived on Cavendish Rd for six years and described it as a “peaceful neighbourhood” where everyone looked out for each other.

Three police cars remained on the street at 10am, she said.

Another resident of Cavendish Rd, who had lived there for seven years, described it as a “model neighbourhood” and was saddened to hear a teenager had died.

“It’s a really quiet orderly neighbourhood, children walk down the road to school every morning,” she said.

“I always think of it as a model neighbourhood.”

She said there had been “no fuss” last night, and she had not heard a disturbance.

“There were a few fireworks being let off but nothing unusual,” she said.

She said there was a police presence as well as residents out on the street today, but she had not yet been contacted by police about the incident.

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