43-year-old man charged with murder of Connor Whitehead

A 43-year-old man has been charged with murder in relation to the death of Connor Whitehead.

Earlier this evening, police have taken a fifth man into custody in relation to the death of Christchurch teen Connor Whitehead.

A police spokesperson said the man was located on Tuesday afternoon at an Avonside property.

He was then taken into custody by police at around 5.15pm.

Detective senior sergeant Nicola Reeves said the man is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court tomorrow.

Earlier the family of 16-year-old Connor Whitehead said they were “shocked and heartbroken” at his “senseless and violent” death at a party on Friday.

“Connor was an innocent bystander on Friday. He was at a party with his friends. He should have been safe and he should be home with us,” James Whitehead said.

“Connor did not know the people who killed him and he was not involved in whatever it was that sparked this unimaginable outcome.

“While we have many questions that need answers, right now we want to remember and celebrate Connor for the amazing son, brother, and friend he was.

“Connor was loved by everyone and he cared about his family and friends deeply.”

Connor loved music and planned to study law – and those dreams had been cruelly taken away.

James thanked everyone who had supported the family since Friday night.

He also thanked emergency staff, police officers and police dogs for all they had done.

Reeves, who is leading Operation Stack, the massive police inquiry into the case, said police have made significant progress in their investigation.

She thanked a number of people in the community who have provided assistance and information to the investigation team.

Inquiries were ongoing and police were actively seeking one person they believe is involved in Connor’s death, she said just more than an hour before the man was arrested.

“Connor had his whole life ahead of him,” Reeves said, which was ended in a “brutal, senseless” incident.

The backgrounds of the people involved were part of the ongoing inquiry and officers were currently trying to work out the motive for the attack.

“[Connor] is in no way linked or associated with the people responsible for his death,” Reeves said.

Connor, 16, died from gunshot wounds after attending a 15th birthday party and fireworks in the northern suburb of Casebrook on Friday night.

Last night, police charged a 32-year-old man with Connor’s murder.

This morning when his case was called at Christchurch District Court, the alleged gunman did not appear in person.

Judge John Brandts-Giesen was told that he remains in hospital. It’s understood he was injured during his arrest when armed police swarmed a property in Burnside on Sunday.

Duty lawyer David Goldwater made no application for bail but asked for interim name suppression, given that the police investigation is in its early stages. Police prosecutor Stephen Burdes supported the bid, which was granted by Judge Brandts-Giesen.

The man was remanded in custody without plea to the High Court in Christchurch on November 26.

Three people have been charged with being accessories after the fact to Whitehead’s murder – a 46-year-old man and two women, aged 36 and 43 – and appeared at Christchurch District Court yesterday.

They all had applications for bail declined by Judge Tony Couch and were remanded in custody without plea to appear in the High Court in Christchurch on November 26.

Connor Whitehead, a “kind, talented and deeply loyal” 16-year-old, had checked with his father that it would be okay for him to attend the party on Friday night.

After getting the green light, the Burnside High student was enjoying himself with friends.

It’s understood that he was shot outside the party house.

His shocked friends tried to give emergency first aid to Whitehead, who lay bleeding on the front lawn, while 111 was called.

The first call to emergency services came at 11.03pm, with reports of a “firearms incident”.

Armed police officers who were first on the scene also tried to save the boy’s life.

St John arrived around 10 minutes later but Whitehead was pronounced dead at the scene.

A massive police investigation was launched, along with a hunt for the killers.

Several properties in Christchurch and on the outskirts of the city were raided and four people have now been arrested.

Reeves said inquiries are ongoing and anyone with information that may assist should contact police on 105 and quote event number P048523046.

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