As a child, Quinn Patterson was forced to help his “eccentric” father dig graves and was the one who stepped in when his parents were fighting.
Before long, he was in trouble with the law. He had several convictions by age 22, including one for stabbing a policeman.
Fast forward 34 years and the troubled father of two is dead, his charred remains recovered last night from his rented home near Whangarei, which burned to the ground after he shot three people during a routine property inspection.
On Wednesday morning, Wendy Campbell, 60, arrived at the house with her daughter Natanya, 37, who had recently started working for her company, Seek n Find, which she ran with husband Tony Rodgers.
They were there to carry out an inspection and install smoke alarms with contractor Jeff Pipe.
But Patterson “lost the plot” and shot the two women dead.
He shot and wounded Mr Pipe, who was able to escape in his Suzuki.
One of five siblings, Patterson moved to New Zealand from Canada with his parents and they settled in Katikati.
Patterson told friends his grave-digging father was intelligent but “a bit of an eccentric”, very spiritual, and had a strange belief about the world.
Friend Leah Cameron said Patterson’s father brought his children up with a “Doomsday” mentality.
“He was fatalistic about the world, that it was not a good place. . . He could have been classed as being a bit of a fanatic.”
He made his children dig graves with him and he and his wife apparently wrote a book about UFOs.
Another friend said Patterson’s father was strict but loved his children very much.
“His dad was tough but he was brought up in the Depression.
“He was just a hard man but he had the love of God in him. He loved his sons (and daughter) very much.”
But Ms Cameron said: “These kids were hammered.
“His father used to get a bit aggro with his mother. Quinn was the protector of the mother.
“He always tried to help. He was the least aggressive in the family. But growing up in his very troubled family, he got into trouble quite a lot.”
That trouble included several brushes with the law and by age 21, he had an assault conviction.
On June 20, 1983, police dog handler Bruce Howat caught him writing graffiti on the wall in a central Hamilton street.
Patterson ran off. Then-constable Howat gave chase and Patterson stabbed his arm several times with a 33cm hunting knife, scarring him for life and ending his career.
“He was a little runt who wore glasses,” Mr Howat said yesterday. “He was so small that after he stabbed me, I picked him up by the belt with one hand and tried to carry him back to the police station.”
After “four or five” mistrials, he was finally convicted in 1984 and sentenced to 18 months for grievous bodily harm.
Over the next 20 years Patterson had two children of his own and by 2007 he was running his own business in Whangarei, where locals were unaware of his violent past.
He rented several properties in the town and had clashes with previous landlords over unpaid rent and expenses.
By about 2010, he was single and living alone in Mount Tiger Road, in one of two homes on the property, the other being empty. He ran Ab Fab House Maintenance Services from the house, but it is believed he was struggling financially.
Like his father, he was known as “a little unusual”, intelligent but temperamental.
“He was a man who would always speak his mind,” Ms Cameron said.
Patterson liked guns, despite friends saying he did not have a licence and was not a hunter.
Neighbours would often hear him shooting in his backyard.
“He just shot in his back lawn by the sounds of it. You could hear it from here, you could hear it from everywhere,” neighbour Brad Walters said.
“They were big guns . . . We’re talking semi-automatics, big calibres.”
A friend told Newshub he had grenades, shotguns, rifles and pistols, and had “barricaded” himself in the property with bars on the windows.
He was becoming more and more depressed and paranoid, friends said.
He told friends and family new tenants had moved into the other home on the property, which he regarded as his “sanctuary”.
He felt like he was being pushed out of the home and Wendy Campbell had keys to the property and had visited, which angered him.
“The thought of moving was incredibly stressful for him,” Ms Cameron said.
“I feel that was the catalyst for snapping.”
Patterson texted Ms Cameron two weeks ago with suicidal thoughts.
Patterson phoned his sister in Auckland after the shootings and left a message.
His life ended after he shot at police and the house burned to the ground.
The sister believed he killed himself because of his actions.
“He would have thought what he did was terrible and that’s why he killed himself. He was never of that nature.
“Physically hurting people deliberately — no, it was never his thing.” — NZME