Prominent New Zealand couple targeted in deadly California robbery

Prominent New Zealand couple targeted in deadly California robbery61830480-3e8a-11ef-b9bf-355123e5252a.jpg

A prominent New Zealand couple visiting California were targeted as they left a shopping centre by a crew of suspected robbers who left one of the pair dead.

The couple – banker Doug and Patricia “Trish” McKay – had been shopping at Newport Beach’s Fashion Island when they were attacked by a group of men on 2 July, officials said.

Ms McKay, 68, a friend of New Zealand’s prime minister, was killed when she was dragged along a road in the ensuing events, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office added.

Three suspects have been charged with murder.

Detailing the incident, which took place about 45 miles (72km) south-east of Los Angeles, the DA said two men wearing masks jumped out of a vehicle as the couple waited to be picked up.

They allegedly pointed a gun at Mr McKay’s head, ordered him to the ground and demanded he hand over the expensive watch he was wearing.

One man attacked Ms McKay, trying to take her shopping bags. He is accused of throwing her to the ground and dragging her into the road.

Mr McKay jumped in front of the car and tried to stop his wife from being run over, but a third man driving the car accelerated, the DA’s news release stated.

The car pushed Mr McKay out of the way but the trio dragged his wife 65 ft (20m) under the vehicle, killing her.

A bystander tried to stop the group from fleeing and was shot at by one of the men during the incident.

The suspects allegedly led authorities on a high-speed chase for nearly 40 miles. They were arrested and identified as Leroy Ernest Joseph McCrary, 26, Malachi Eddward Darnell, 18, and Jaden Cunningham, 18.

All three were charged with murder with a felony enhancement that makes them eligible for the death penalty, according to the DA’s office. One of the suspects, Mr McCrary, is also facing charges of second-degree robbery and evading while driving recklessly.

It is unclear who is legally representing each of the men.

Doug McKay, 69, is a prominent businessman and banker in New Zealand. He was the first CEO of the Auckland Council, a body established in 2010 that helps govern the Auckland Region of the country.

He was also the former chair of the Bank of New Zealand, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The family released a statement to local media, saying: “No words can express our sadness as we try to come to terms with the loss”.

The couple’s personal friend, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, paid tribute.

“My thoughts are with the McKay family after the devastating loss of Trish,” Mr Luxon posted on X. “They’re great people and my heart goes out to Doug, their family and all those who knew Trish.”

Desley Simpson, the deputy mayor of Auckland, said on Facebook that she was “in absolute shock”.

“Trish was amazing – funny, loyal and loving. My absolute deepest sympathies to Doug and (Ms McKay’s) family,” Ms Simpson said.

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