At the blazing Holden home they ran into a hail of gunfire that cut down the first five arrivals. The gunman was David Gray, 33, an unemployed farmhand and next-door neighbor of the Holdens. Earlier he had picked an argument with Holden, possibly over the latter's mistreatment of his dog and rabbits. Gray then killed Holden and his elder daughter, 11, and torched the house. As terrified villagers tried to flee, Gray fired at them with five high-powered rifles kept in his kitchen, then began to stalk neighbors' homes. Among those killed was the first policeman to arrive at the scene.
After a 23-hour siege, tear gas finally flushed Gray from a house in which he had holed up. He emerged shooting and was killed by police gunfire. The toll: 14 dead, more than a quarter of Aramoana's population, and three injured.