December 20, 2014
Hunt continues in Kiwi’s murder
Provincial Security minister confirms handing in resignation to governor
Police in Mendoza were continuing their investigation yesterday into the shooting murder of New Zealand citizen in a popular city park and will check security cameras in the vicinity of Monday’s crime. The provincial Security minister has handed in his resignation over the incident.
Nicholas Hugh Heyward, 31, was shot dead in the General San Martín park in the western province of Mendoza on Monday afternoon, when he was walking alongside the popular tourist destination in the company of two other foreign nationals who witnessed the event.
Heyward had been approached by two men — believed to be teenagers — on a motorcycle. The adventure traveller had allegedly resisted their attempts to steal his backpack, before he was shot in the neck and chest.
Police said witnesses had reported Heyward had remained conscious for a short period of time, but died moments after receiving at least four shots as the two men rode away on a motorcycle.
Media, including the Buenos Aires Herald, had reported the man was Australian. And while Heyward does live in Australia, he travelled to Argentina with a New Zealand passport, a spokesperson from the provincial security ministry confirmed to the Herald.
The New Zealand embassy is reported to have been in contact with authorities in Mendoza, where Heyward’s remains are being kept at the court morgue.
The next step for the embassy in Buenos Aires will be to repatriate his body to his home, which Australian media yesterday reported as the South Australian city of Adelaide.
The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said yesterday in a statement it was aware of the “sad occurrence.”“The New Zealand Embassy in Buenos Aires is liaising with the local authorities to obtain details of the incident,” the statement noted.
Heyward was a trained physiotherapist, understood to have been part-way through a holiday across Argentina, Chile and Peru, according to the New Zealand Herald.
He was said to be teaching English while he travelled and partook in a number of adventure activities including rock climbing a few days before his death.The 31-year-old had arrived in Mendoza on Saturday after having been in the southern city of Bariloche, where he had met the Australian woman and French national who witnessed his murder on Monday.The three had been staying at the Ítaka Hostel on Arístides Villanueva street in the City, a popular area for tourists visiting the Andean city.
On Monday evening, police had said the licence plate of the motorcycle used in the attack had been identified and that the two suspects were hiding out in the La Favorita neighourhood of Mendoza. The provincial police chief Juan Carlos Caleri confirmed to the Herald last night that police continued believing the assailants had fled to La Favorita.
Authorities had sent out a helicopter to scour the vicinity moments after the attack, and said they would be offering a 40,000-peso reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects.
The incident has had repercussions in the local and international media, including the announcement by the province’s Security Minister Leonardo Comperatore that he had handed in his resignation.
“I’ll leave my resignation in the hand’s of the governor,” he told reporters. “If my resignation helps improve security (in Mendoza province), I will move aside.”
What’s more, a group of joggers who claim to jog around the General San Martín park where the murder took place confirmed yesterday they would be protesting on Saturday for greater security in the area.“We don’t want to continue giving up public space to criminals,” said one of the joggers, Cecilia Poblete.