No present for mum sparks Mother’s Day shooting
A MAN allegedly shot his stepbrother after they got in a fight because he didn't wish his stepmother a happy Mother's Day during a family gathering at a remote Hunter Region property.
The pair got into a punch-up when Chris Rundle, 35, criticised his stepbrother Billy Smith, 28, for neglecting to wish Mr Rundle's mother all the best for the special day or get her a present on Sunday.
Police believe that after the two got into a physical altercation, in front of the family, Mr Smith left the room and returned with .22 calibre rifle at noon.
He allegedly shot his stepbrother in the torso at close range before fleeing into a wooded area nearby. There he shot himself in the head in an attempt to take his own life, but survived.
Both men were flown from the Bingleburra Rd property at Bingleburra, 100km north of Maitland, to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle clinging to life on Sunday afternoon.
Last night, Mr Smith remained in a critical condition, while Mr Rundle was serious but stable.
The get-together was to be a large family gathering to celebrate Mother's Day with Mr Rundle driving from Tanilba Bay in Port Stephens with his children to see his mother, who lived with his stepfather and Mr Smith.
It is understood the argument broke out not long after Mr Rundle had arrived at the property.
There were a number of children present when the shooting took place.
Police said Mr Smith was the registered owner of the firearm and does hold a current firearm's licence.
When paramedics arrived at the property they were responding to Mr Rundle's injuries but soon came across Mr Smith by the side of the road.
He was bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head and had a .22 calibre rifle near him.
Mr Rundle is yet to be questioned as he recovers in hospital. "It's an on going investigation," a police spokesman said.
"Obviously it is a distressing time for all those involved, including the children who were at the property at the time,'' he said.
Police would not comment on whether there were any witnesses to either shooting, except to say they are confident that there is no one else involved.
"We are very sure there is no offender outstanding in relation to the shooting," the spokesman said.
Port Stephens-Hunter District police established a crime scene at the large rural property as they investigate the circumstances of the shootings.
A police source on Sunday described the nature of the argument to The Daily Telegraph as "petty".