Cold-blooded killer on run

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 14 Juli 2013 | 19.55

CORDONED OFF: Tasmania Police forensics officers were on the scene at the Marrawah Tavern after yesterday's execution-style shooting of a local man, believed to have been aged in his 40s, with two children. Picture: CHRIS KIDD

A KILLER is on the loose and a peaceful Tasmanian hamlet in shock after a Circular Head father of two was shot at close range while leaving the Marrawah Tavern.

Police have appealed for public help in hunting down the gunman, who struck at closing time early yesterday morning in what authorities described as a targeted attack.

The murder has shocked the tight-knit, North-West coastal town -- population 400 -- better known for its lush dairy pastures, fresh air and world-class surf break.

Yesterday, the Marrawah Tavern remained closed, with the village cordoned off by police tape from daybreak and forensic officers establishing a forward command post outside the pub.

Roadblocks were set up at Boat Harbour and Corrina, with police searching all cars leaving the area.

In the afternoon, a body covered in a blue tarpaulin was carried out on a stretcher. The identity of the victim, aged in his 40s, is yet to be released, but he is understood to be a local worker and father, who had separated from his partner.

No arrests had been made last night.

Police would not reveal what type of firearm was used.

Residents the Sunday Tasmanian spoke to feared the cold-blooded killing was linked to a criminal turf war, after reports two bikie gangs had established bases in the far North-West recently.

Locals too afraid to give their names said drugs were the most likely catalyst for the execution-style hit.

Acting Police Commissioner Matthew Richman urged anyone with information about people acting suspiciously in the area to come forward, saying unusual vehicles sighted in the area or people hitch-hiking could lead to a breakthrough in the case.

Police said they had deployed significant resources to Marrawah and asked residents to remain alert, but not alarmed.

Circular Head mayor Daryl Quilliam said the violent incident would devastate the Marrawah community, and the whole region, for some time to come.

He said the deceased, who for several years had performed contract work for the council, was reliable and a hard worker.

"He always did a good job for us," Mr Quilliam said.

"Something like this affects the community badly. You hear of these things happening in other parts of Australia, but when it happens in your municipality it's terrible.

"This is a small community where everybody knows everybody and usually that is a damn good thing. But when something like this happens, it's devastating."

Mr Quilliam said community members would support each other through the tragedy, which was certain to have a long-term impact.

He described the Marrawah Tavern as an important part of community life in the region.

"People will eventually recover, but something like this will devastate us for some time," he said.

A spokeswoman for Police Minister David O'Byrne said the Government was confident police would catch the killer, and, after a string of armed robberies across the state, denied Tasmania was experiencing a gun violence epidemic.

"Tasmania maintains low crime rates and remains one of the safest states in Australia," the spokeswoman said.

"Police clearance rates remain extremely high, and the fact remains that if you commit these crimes in Tasmania you will get caught."

People with information about yesterday's shooting are asked to call police on 131 444 or CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

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