Her partner suffered several gunshot wounds to his head and is now in a stable condition at Coffs Harbour Hospital.

Police said the two events were not linked and happened by chance on Wednesday.

Emergency services were called to a beach at Woolgoolga about 4.30pm (EST), where the 57-year-old man’s body was found at the water’s edge.

An hour later police were called to Darkum Road, Mullaway, about 6km from the beach, after a 32-year-old man was shot.

A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the shooting and is being questioned, police said.

“There are no links between the two separate events. It would just appear to be a tragic set of circumstances for that family,” Coffs-Clarence Commander, Superintendent Mark Holahan, said. “It’s just a strange set of circumstances.”

The shooting victim and his partner, who live in Queensland, had been at the beach when the body was found.

“They’d gone and visited some friends in Coffs Harbour for the day… and took the opportunity to stop at the beach,” Superintendent Holahan said.

There were some reports that the family got into a fight with a bystander at the beach, who followed them to the Mullaway house and shot the 32-year-old man in the head.

Those reports have not been confirmed.

“We honestly believe [the shooting] is as a result of a personal matter from some years ago,” Superintendent Holahan said. “Their paths have crossed yesterday. We believe once their paths crossed, the second vehicle followed the victim and that altercation took place.”

Police said the drowning was not suspicious, and the shooting was not linked to outlaw motorcycle gang activity.

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