The 32-year-old father who was shot dead in an apparent murder-suicide in Tasmania has been described as a kind and caring man who will be dearly missed.
Chris Walters was one of two men who died early on Saturday morning in the shooting at a home on William Street, Devonport on the state’s northwest coast.
Police say Paul Carey, 35, did not have a firearms licence when he bought the unregistered gun he used to shoot Chris Walters and a 38-year-old woman before he is believed to have turned the weapon on himself.
Both men died at the scene while the woman, who suffered a gunshot wound to her abdomen, went to a neighbour’s house to raise the alarm.
Police on Sunday said she remained in Launceston General Hospital in a stable condition.
Her 10-year-old son and 12-month-old baby were home at the time and were not physically injured, though police have said the boy would undergo therapy after witnessing “a fair portion” of what occurred.
Mr Walters has been remembered by friends and family as a “kind, funny, caring guy” and a respected man who went out of his way to make his friends smile despite going through “so many tough times” in his life.
Police investigating the incident want to establish the source of the firearm, a Winchester shotgun, which they believe Mr Carey obtained in the past three months.
It’s believed the gun was imported legally in the 1970s, prior to the introduction of the Firearms Act in 1996, and was never registered.
Police are encouraging the person who assisted Mr Carey in sourcing the firearm to contact detectives, without fear of prosecution under the state’s permanent firearms amnesty.
Established following the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, the amnesty agreement means unregistered, unwanted or illegal firearms and ammunition can be surrendered to police or a firearms dealer without prosecution.
“It is important we establish the sequence of events which led up to the incident,” Detective Inspector Kim Steven said on Sunday.
“Illegal firearms pose a significant risk to the community, as we have seen with the tragic events of yesterday. These events will have a lifelong impact on the families involved.”
Police said the families of Mr Walters and Mr Carey had given their permission to release the identities of the two men.
Inspector Steven on Saturday said emergency responders came face-to-face with a “pretty confronting scene” when they arrived at William St shortly after 1am.
They found the woman outside with serious but non-life-threatening injuries after receiving a call for help from a neighbour.
Inside, the alleged shooter took his own life after hearing police arrive.
Inspector Steven said the man was “barely alive” when officers entered the house.
The other man was found deceased inside.
Both children have been placed in the care of their grandmother while their mother recovers from her injuries.
Inspector Steven said officers who attended the scene would receive ongoing support.
“We are trained for this but it’s only a very small number of police who will attend a scene like that with basically an active person, or shots being fired,” he said.
“We will provide ongoing welfare for them and for the ambulance team who turned up as well.”
While addressing the media, Mr Steven urged people to “give your kids a hug (and) be kind to each other”.
“You just never know what is going on behind closed doors.”
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