Home' Greymouth Star : November 10th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, November 10, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
461 - Death of Pope Leo I (the Great), pope
1944 - It is disclosed that Germany is using a
new weapon, a V-2 rocket, against England.
1956 - Baghdad Pact nations boycott Britain.
1963 - Cholera epidemic in India and Pakistan
is reported to have killed more than 1500 people
in previous few weeks.
1969 - Children’s educational
programme Sesame Street debuts.
1973 - Secretary of State Henry
Kissinger arrives in Beijing and gives
assurance that US is determined to
complete normalisation of relations
with China as soon as possible.
1976 - Syrian troops and tanker enter
Beirut without resistance under agreement for
multi-national Arab peacekeeping force.
1980 - East German president Erich
Honecker makes his first state visit to a western
1989 - Gaby Kennard arrives back in Sydney,
the first person to fly single-handed around the
1990 - Chandra Shekhar is sworn in as prime
minister of India.
1993 - A jury in Manassas, Virginia, acquits
John Wayne Bobbitt of marital sexual assault
against his wife, L orena, who had cut off his
penis with a pair of scissors.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Martin Luther, German-born
Protestant Reformation leader
(1483-1546); Bobby Limb,
Australian show business personality
(1924-1999); Brittany Murphy,
US actress (1977-2009); Miranda
Lambert, US singer (1983-);
Ricki-Lee Coulter, Australian
singer (1985-); Jessica Tovey, Australian actress
“A nickname is the heaviest stone that the
Devil can throw at a man.” — William Hazlitt,
British essayist (1778-1830).
“In this is love, not that we loved God but
that He loved us and sent His Son to be the
atoning sacrifice for our sins. ” — (1 John 4:10).
Firedamp, coal dust,
and a shot fired
of regulations have been blamed for the
Strongman mine disaster in which 19 men died
on January 19 this year. Negligence by the NZ
State Coalmines Department is held to be a
“real and substantial cause” of the blast, with the
degree of responsibility resting heaviest on the
officials charged with the statutory powers and
responsibilities — the manager, acting-manager,
the underviewers of Green’s No 2 section and
the deputy shotfirers in that section.
Although heating in the early morning
following the fire made it impossible to return
to the scene and examine the situation with
meticulous care, sufficient was seen on the
brief inspection which was made to enable the
commission of inquiry to discover with certainty
the cause of the disaster — a shot fired at the
coal face broke through into an abandoned area
or goaf where firedamp was present, together
with sufficient coal dust to set off a major
The Minister of Mines Mr Shand said today
the management at the Strongman mine would
not be asked to resign because of the mine
disaster, and the only action he plans to take is
to invite competent overseas authority on mines
safety to say how another blast can be avoided.
Though it came direct to Greymouth, it was
addressed to Australia: Mr Duncan Hardie, PO
Box 209, Greymouth, New Zealand, Australia.
It underlines Mr Hardie’s call for wider
publicity for this country — at least establishing
the fact there are two countries involved.
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
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3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
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03 755 8422
Factual histor y
Ex-Westland mayor Pugh has been
meddling of our history i.e. Kapitia
(Greymouth Star, November 6).
There are also bitter tastes still to
be spat up over the Chinese garden,
administered by the Kumara Residents
Trust, along with the withdrawal of
Kumara endowment funds of $162,000
and now the supposed promise of
Development West Coast MDI (major
district initiative) money (over $230,000)
through the Westland District Council,
plus council costs from public purse. All
this for a project which as always lacked
Mayor Smith and his appointed
Chinese ‘ambassador’ Mike Keenan
promote the project at a Christchurch
Chinese fundraiser and using the Mayor
of Christchurch Liane Dalziel, as
inter viewed on Facebook. Question: Has
she too been misled? Does she have all
Many of Westland’s early settler pioneer
descendants, in fact, are not in favour of
the Kumara Chinese Memorial Garden.
The process has been unfair, the project
messy. There was not fair consultation.
In respect for all our pioneers
(many and varied nationalities, early
goldminers), without any segregation
or commercial gain, we stand strong
in that any such planned and named
public facility must be factual when
acknowledging respect to our early
Perhaps it should be named ‘Early
Settlers Memorial Garden’ in due respect
to all. At least that could be swallowed
Westland District Council may also
need to look at the Hokitika cannon
historic events and information, and stop
altering our history.
Rex and Anthea Keenan
After reading in the Greymouth Star
(October 31) ‘Large increase in Coast Tb
infected herds’ in the northern
West Coast, I had smoke coming out my
I was thinking, we have been blanket
bombed with 1080 poison virtually
every year since 1976 under the guise of
eradicating Tb, and all of a sudden there
is a spike in Tb numbers?
But the people responsible can still find
reasons to persist with this method, even
after silencing the birdlife in this area. I
recently walked in to our big rimu tree
where you are usually greeted by a robin
or a fantail — nothing.
While on the subject of 1080 and our
‘bird of the year’ the kea, I see that one
was rushed to Christchurch to a vet when
suffering lead poisoning, and motorists
were told to take care. And a Buller man
was given a community work sentence
for killing a kea (which I certainly do not
So, why can DOC etc be adamant in
continuing the killing in their hundreds
and call it ‘Battle for our Birds’?
One really does wonder where and
when this wholesale poisoning of our
beautiful West Coast will cease.
In response to your correspondent
Laurie Anisy (Greymouth Star,
November 3), the vast majority of funeral
directors are caring people who strive
extremely hard to do the best they can
to help grieving families through the
toughest times they can face.
Of the 200 funeral homes in New
Zealand, 124 are members of the Funeral
Directors Association and they perform
80% of funerals.
The association has a very strict code
of conduct and a set of standards that
members agree to uphold. Anyone who
fails to meet these standards will face
an independent complaints procedure.
Because of the presence of the code and
standards, and because complaints are few
and far between, we do not believe there is
a need for regulation.
We do, however, support the Law
Commission’s recommendation that every
funeral home in New Zealand must have
a qualified funeral director on staff —
something our members already must
have. The public is encouraged to notify us
when they consider ser vice is not up to the
expected standard and we will take action.
Go to our website www.fdanz.co.nz
FDANZ chief executive
In reply to Joan McGrath (Greymouth
Star, November 6), I am not asking anyone
to assume that I am the local community.
If Joan McGrath had read my last letter
she would know that I was speaking on
behalf of 296 people. These people have the
right to be heard.
Ms Abbott ’s last letter read: “Before people
put pen to paper they need to get all the facts.
I would like to apologise to the KRT and
Maureen Pugh. I am the person opposing
the name change of Dillmans Dam. I asked
Maureen Pugh to assist me in my quest.
I am not rewriting history. The dam was
constructed as Dillmans. My partner and
many other locals worked on the project. Why
should their history and heritage be ignored?
The reservoir has been called Kapitea and the
long and short dams Dillmans for 40 years. Joy
At the recent West Coast District Health
Board meeting there were many comments
about the increased number of patients
needing to travel to Christchurch. It is
important to distinguish between increased
transfers for necessity and avoidable
Some of the increase in numbers occurred
about two decades ago and was related
to changes in surgical specialisation, such
as keyhole surgery and the increased
availability of cardiac stenting. This should
not be a reason for any of the recent
increase in numbers.
Visiting surgeons have provided some
specialised surgical procedures, such as
urology and plastic surgery, for over a
decade and recent changes need scrutiny.
The decrease in local orthopaedic ser vices
was not due to necessity. Two of the full-
time surgeons were harassed and other
surgeons who wanted regular positions
were only offered more costly locum posts.
Disruption of orthopaedic services has
allowed inter-district transfer of public
health funds, while compromising care in
The public deser ve a better explanation
and disclosure of the personnel involved in
the decision making.
If the local anaesthetic, general medical
services or quality assurance systems are
disrupted, there may also be an increased
need for transfer of surgical patients with
complex needs, increased transfers to
intensive care, or numbers sent back to the
Most patients needing secondary care
services do not need surgery and fall under
adult medical ser vices. This service used
to be available to anyone with a problem
outside the expertise of a GP or other
specialists. The numbers of patients not
being referred, or the numbers who do not
get follow up care is relevant.
Telemedicine palliative care was described
to the board members as “cutting edge”.
Palliative care usually requires informed
consent and a comprehensive assessment of
the patient and circumstances.
The Health Disability Commissioner has
not responded to numerous cases where
this initial assessment was well below
accepted standards. When the promoted
“cutting edge” medicine goes wrong,
witnesses are intimidated in judiciary
investigations. Several Ministers of Health
have been made aware of this.
few dozen families gathered
in the yard of the First
Baptist Church on Tuesday,
October 31, their children
dressed as Dalmatians and
pirates as they ran through
a bounce house and crowded around a
metal tub to fish for rubber duckies.
The modest “fall fest ” gathering aimed
to provide an alternative to Halloween
— an attractive innovation in a deeply
conser vative region.
For Michelle Shields, the event included
a positive development: Her son-in-law,
Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, was in the crowd.
There had been recent tension in the family,
so she hoped Kelley ’s appearance with her
grandaughter meant things were on the
The next night, Kelley and his wife,
Danielle, seemed fine as they joined
another couple for dinner at the other
“He was happy, laughing, giggly, holding
his kids, holding my kids. Smacking his
wife on the butt, you know, ‘I love you, baby’
kind of stuff,” said the husband, who spoke
on the condition of anonymity because he
and his wife have received threats. “I have
no clue as to what really happened.
“He was fine, and that was Wednesday.”
On Sunday, Kelley returned to the church,
this time dressed in all black, wearing body
armour and a mask and carrying an assault-
style rifle. He shot the associate pastor, and
the church secretary, and children as they
cried for their parents. He killed about half
the people in the church and shot many of
the rest. His intention, according to his own
declaration during the rampage, was to kill
Authorities have not offered an official
explanation of Kelley ’s motive but have
revealed that he was in the midst of a
domestic quarrel with, and had sent
threatening text messages to, his mother-
in-law. But she was not even there that day.
The mass murder came at the end of
a turbulent period for Kelley, whose
adulthood was filled with marriages and
children but also troublesome signs of
mental health problems, domestic violence,
a stint in jail and a bad conduct discharge
from the Air Force.
Some friends who interacted with Kelley
recently said he had become erratic. He had
told at least one friend that he had begun
taking a panic disorder drug and wanted to
borrow money to pay for a psychiatrist.
His final Facebook posts consisted of
complaints of headaches and gripes about
lingering neck and head pain from a
motorcycle accident in 2014.
“Damn, my head’s been hurting for three
days now,” he wrote in one of his last posts.
“Ah f—- . I’m a wreck,” he added
in another, ultimately his final public
statement before he headed to the church,
where many of the same families and the
same children who had attended the fall
fest gathered to pray, where he would
commit one of the deadliest mass shootings
in US history.
This account of Sunday ’s mass shooting
is based on inter views with witnesses,
sur vivors, law enforcement officials and a
review of other news accounts.
When he reached the church, Kelley
began moving rapidly around the exterior
in a crouch, like a “GI Joe” character. For
about two minutes he quickly circled the
building, firing through its walls, wielding
his weapon just below his chest as the
horrified worshippers inside began to
scream and duck beneath pews as bullets
burst through sanctuary windows.
Kelley ’s body jolted as he sprayed the
outside of the church. Smith and Flores
scrambled on all fours back into the gas
station, screaming to the few customers
there to find cover.
Then, for a moment, the shooting
stopped. Kelley walked into First Baptist.
Then the gunfire started anew.
Bryan Holcombe, 60, the church’s
associate pastor, had just walked up to the
pulpit to begin preaching when he was
struck. His wife, Karla, 58, was also hit. By
the time the shooting stopped minutes later
both of them, along with six other family
members and a pregnant woman’s unborn
child, would be dead.
Most in the sanctuary tried to hide, and
Kelley shot at those who ran. Then he made
his way up and down the aisle through
the small room, firing into prone bodies.
When the children clustered near the front
of the sanctuary began to wail, he shot at
them. If Kelley saw someone reaching for a
cellphone he would shoot at it.
Farida Brown, 73, a member of the
church for the past decade, was struck four
times in her legs as she lay hiding in the
back row. Four shots hit the woman to her
right. Brown held her hand, assuring her
that it would be over soon, that she was
headed to Heaven.
“ With every shot, she was crying,” David
Brown, Farida’s son, said of the woman.
“S he was just staring at my mum while she
tried to comfort her.”
Lying a few pews away, all Rosa Solis
could see was the stalk of the killer’s black
boots. Next to her lay a young boy who
had been shot and was crying out for his
mother. But she did not speak. She held her
breath, hoping the man in the mask would
think she was already dead.
“He was mostly shooting at the children,”
recounted Sue Soto, Rosa’s sister, who drove
Solis — who had a gaping shoulder wound
— and Joaquin Ramirez, Solis’s boyfriend,
to the hospital.
A single, blood-covered man emerged
near the side of the church and sprinted
across a grassy lot to the gas station,
desperately pounding on the glass door.
“He started killing everybody,” the man
blurted out, collapsing to his knees. “My
family’s in there.”
They all looked out the window. No one
else was leaving the church.
“All I could think about was that my
friend Joann was in there with her kids,”
Smith recalled. “I knew everybody in there.
They were all my customers and friends.”
Smith’s friend, Joann Ward, was among
those killed. She had shoved her eldest
daughter away from the shooting before
throwing herself on top of her three
youngest children. Two of them died there
with her. The third, her five-year-old son
Ryland, was shot in the stomach, groin and
arm and remains hospitalised.
There had been between 50 and 60
worshippers that morning. The number
who remained unharmed when the gunfire
finally stopped could be counted on one
Kelley turned his back on the bloody
carnage and walked out the front door.
Stephen Willeford, 55, was at his home
on Fifth Street, a block from the church,
when his daughter told him she could hear
gunfire. A certified shooting instructor,
Willeford grabbed an assault-style rifle and
ran out of the house so fast that he did not
have time to put on shoes. He approached
the church on Farm Road 539, barefoot,
just as Kelley was exiting.
The two men made eye contact.
“It was surreal to me. It couldn’t be
happening. I could not believe it,”
Willeford, still shaken a day later, said in a
tv interview with a local Texas station.
Willeford, a former NRA instructor, took
up a protective position behind a pickup
truck and fired at Kelley, hitting him twice.
Kelley returned fire, then dropped his
rifle and got into his Ford SUV, using a
handgun to fire another couple of rounds
at Willeford through his side window.
Willeford kept firing. Kelley sped away,
north-east on 539, through the blinking
light at the crossroads.
Johnnie Langendorff, 27, had been on
his way to visit his girlfriend when he
spotted a barefoot man in what looked
and sounded like a shootout with a man in
all-black clothing. As Kelley drove away,
Willeford ran up to Langendorff ’s white
pick-up truck and jumped directly into the
“He just shot up the church!” Willeford
shouted. “ We have to get him!”
“Let ’s go,” Langendorff replied.
The strangers sped behind Kelley, calling
911 and staying on the line with the
“ We blew through this intersection, we
were doing about 90, 95, going up 539,”
Langendorff said later. “I was trying to
calm the gentleman, stay on the phone
with dispatch and keep up with this other
When they finally caught up to Kelley,
about 17km away, his SUV had veered off
the road and crashed into a ditch.
Both men jumped out of the truck.
“Get out! Get out!” Willeford screamed
at the gunman. There was no movement.
Willeford’s hands clutched tightly around
his rifle as Langendorff waved his arms to
try to keep other vehicles away from the
There was no movement in Kelley’s car.
At some point during his final flight he
had called his father. He had been shot, he
said. He was not going to make it. Then
Kelley shot himself in the head. He was
dead by the time police arrived.
Ted Montgomery had skipped church
that morning because his wife, First
Baptist ’s Sunday school director, was
not feeling well. When he heard about
the shooting he rushed to the sanctuary,
helping carry seven or eight of the
wounded children out on stretchers.
A single bloody body lay in the church’s
front yard and another to the side of the
building, both eventually covered with
yellow tarps. Wounded churchgoers
wandered the lot, drying blood covering
their arms and legs. Some victims were
being whisked away in the back of
“ I haven’t seen anything like this since I
left Vietnam,” Montgomery told reporters
at a vigil on Sunday night. “It was a
David Casillas, 55, who lives nearby, said
he raced to the scene immediately after
the shooting and was horrified. People
were dazed: “Most of them couldn’t even
Church leaders began discussing what
comes next. Pastor Frank Pomeroy had
been in Oklahoma City that morning
when his phone began ringing. His
14-year-old daughter was among the
dead. Updating the church website with
information would have to wait — the
webmaster was in the hospital taking care
of his daughter. They had both been shot.
It is unclear if what remains of First
Baptist ’s sanctuary will ever host another
worship ser vice.
“ My gut instinct says that probably
ought to become a memorial site and we
build a new sanctuary elsewhere,” said
Mark Collins, 57, who spent 12 years as
the associate pastor before moving on to
his own church six years ago.
Tambria Read, 59, a high school art
teacher who is heavily steeped in town
history, would like people to know that
Sutherland Springs is a beautiful place
with a proud past. “ We don’t want the
world to remember Sutherland Springs for
this,” she said.
Read had raced into action when she
heard about the shooting. She opened
the town’s historical museum so that first
responders could use the copier machine.
Then she drove to the community centre,
a modest building two blocks from the
church. Inside, family members of people
killed or wounded were meeting police.
As Read stood outside next to two
county officials, Michelle Shields, Kelly’s
mother-in-law, emerged from the
community centre’s front door. Shields’
own mother, Lula White, 71, the church
secretary, had been slain.
Shields saw Read and approached, and
the two embraced in a tight hug.
Then, Read recalled, Shields looked at
her, then at the two county officials, and
declared: “I know who did it.”
— New Zealand Herald
Unfolding church massacre
Law enforcement officers outside the Sunderland Springs First Baptist Church.
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