New Zealand shooter attacked alone, but may have had help

FAN Editor
Thousands attend memorials for New Zealand shooting victims

What we know about the New Zealand shootings

  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says gun law reforms will be announced within 10 days.
  • New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the accused gunman was the only shooter but may have had support.
  • 50 people are dead after shootings at two mosques; 50 others were wounded in the Friday attack.
  • A suspected shooter, an Australian national, has been charged with murder and two other people are in custody.
  • A man who claimed responsibility for the attack wrote a manifesto referencing “white genocide” driven by “mass immigration.”
  • The manifesto said guns were used to stoke the 2nd Amendment debate in the U.S. and called President Trump a “symbol of renewed white identity.”
  • A gun store owner in New Zealand says the store sold four guns and ammunition to the suspect.

Follow latest updates below:

New Zealand gun show cancelled

The organizers of New Zealand’s largest gun show said Monday that they had canceled the event to show respect for victims of the Christchurch massacre and because of “elevated security risks.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed to tighten gun laws after the attack. She said banning private ownership of semi-automatic rifles, which were used to devastating effect in the attack Friday on two Christchurch mosques, is an option.

The Kumeu Militaria Show, near Auckland, has been held for about five years. In a statement announcing cancellation of the March 23 event, organizers said the show aims to support servicemen and women and promote interest in New Zealand’s military history.

On the show’s Facebook page, most commenters said they supported the decision.

Victims’ families anxious to bury loved ones

Three days after the shootings at two mosques, victims’ relatives were anxiously waiting for word on when they can bury their loved ones. Islamic tradition calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said authorities hoped to release all the bodies by Wednesday and police said authorities were working with pathologists and coroners to complete the task as soon as they could.

Members of the Muslim community and police were at a cemetery that’s been fenced off and obscured with white netting. Backhoes had stopped digging and police officers said they were setting up a media area inside the cemetery.

Kawthar Abulaban, 54, who survived the shooting at the Al Noor Mosque, came to the burial site to see the preparations. She didn’t mind the row of photographers and reporters lined up outside the cemetery.

“It’s good for the world to see what’s happened because people around the world, they thought we were terrorists because some stupid people, they said they are Muslims, they go and kill innocent people, they thought we are terrorists,” said Abulaban who emigrated to New Zealand from Jordan 17 years ago.

“I will not change my opinion about New Zealand. It’s my country,” she said. “You know I have lots of support, lots of love, lots of kindness from all of the New Zealand people.”

Teen charged with distributing gunman’s livestream: Report

An 18-year-old man has been charged with distributing a livestream of the mass shooting at two mosques Friday, the New Zealand Herald reported, according to the Reuters news service.

His request for bail was denied at a court in New Zealand Monday but the judge said his name could be kept out of the public eye.

He was arrested Friday but police have said they don’t think he was directly involved in the attack.

The teen is also accused of posting a photo of one of the mosques with the message “target acquired” and with posting other chat messages “inciting extreme violence,” the Herald reported.

Accused shooter was sole gunman, but may have had help, top cop says

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the gunman who killed 50 people and wounded dozens of others at two Christchurch mosques Friday acted alone, but may have had support.

Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant was arrested moments after the shootings. He was charged with a single count of murder and a judge said Saturday he may face other charges.

Bush said at a Monday news conference, “We believe absolutely there was only one attacker responsible for this.”

But he added that the support of other people hasn’t been ruled out and is “a very, very important part of our investigation.”

Gun law changes to be announced within 10 days, PM says

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says gun law reforms will be announced within 10 days in the wake of the Christchurch shootings that left 50 people dead.

She said Cabinet ministers decided in principle at a meeting Monday to tighten gun ownership but details still need to be worked out.

Ardern also announced an inquiry into the country’s intelligence services.

The Australian white supremacist charged in the massacre wasn’t detected before his well-planned attack on two mosques and there have been concerns intelligence agencies were overly focused on the Muslim community in detecting and preventing security risks.

Christchurch gun store owner says he sold several weapons to suspect

A Christchurch gun shop on Monday acknowledged selling guns online to the 28-year-old white supremacist accused of killing 50 people in mosque shootings that have upturned New Zealand’s reputation as among the world’s most tolerant and safe nations.

At a news conference, Gun City owner David Tipple said the store sold four guns and ammunition to Brenton Harrison Tarrant through a “police-verified online mail order process.” The store “detected nothing extraordinary,” about the buyer, he said.

None of the guns sold to Tarrant were military-style, semi-automatic weapons, according to Tipple. It wasn’t clear if any of the firearms Tarrant bought from Gun City were used in Friday’s shootings.

In vowing to tighten gun laws, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the attacker used five guns, two of them semi-automatic, that were purchased with an ordinary gun license and modified.

Tipple said he felt no responsibility for the tragedy and refused to say whether he believed gun ownership laws should change in New Zealand, insisting a debate over guns should be held at another time.

“This man wrote in his manifesto that the purpose of using a firearm was to divide us,” Tipple said. “If we allow him to make changes in our ideology, in our behavior, he’s won.”

His store has been criticized for leaving out a roadside advertising billboard that shows a parent helping children with rifle target practice in the wake of the shootings.

“The fact that someone has done this to our friends, our colleagues, our friends – this is just unbelievable,” says hospital chief of surgery

The chief of surgery at Christchurch Hospital said in a news conference that 34 remain at that hospital, and one more patient is in critical condition at a separate hospital. Only one patient has died at the hospital so far, said Greg Robertson, the chief of surgery at Christchurch Hospital.

There are 12 patients in the ICU in critical condition, and many patients have required multiple surgeries.

“Forty to 50 gunshot wounds in a day is more than anyone should see,” he said.

Robertson said there is “no doubt” the deadly 2011 earthquake had been some preparation for having a large number of patients at the same time. But he said “we don’t want to get better” at handling a mass casualty situation. He elaborated that the injuries were “quite different” between the earthquake and the mass shooting, and said this shooting had a psychological effect on the hospital staff as well.

“The fact that someone has done this to our people, our friends, our colleagues – this is just unbelievable,” Robertson said.

​”You try and understand it but it’s so senseless”

Family members are struggling to make sense of their loss.

“We do know he was in there and is one of the fallen,” Javed Dadabhai told CBS News of his cousin, who died inside the Al Noor Mosque. “You try and understand it but it’s so senseless, it wasn’t an accident.”

Farid Ahmed made it out of the mosque alive, he said he saw piles of bodies, the dead and the wounded.

“It was terrible. So many people, you know. some of them were screaming,” Ahmed said.

— Ben Tracy

Death toll rises to 50

The death toll from the deadly shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, has risen to 50, authorities said Sunday local time. Thirty-six are being being treated at Christchurch Hospital, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a news conference.

One child is among those injured and two others remain in critical condition, Bush said.

Suspect Brenton Tarrant appears in court

Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old shooting suspect, appeared in court Saturday in Christchurch on a murder charge. He wore handcuffs and a white prison shirt and had no expression.

“There is one charge of murder brought at the moment, it is reasonable to assume that there will be others,” the judge said after Tarrant left.

He did not request bail. His next court appearance will be April 5.

Brenton Tarrant
Brenton Tarrant at his appearance in the Christchurch District Court on March 16, 2019. Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald via​ Reuters

36 people being treated at Christchurch hospital

There are currently 36 people being treated at Christchurch Hospital after some people with minor injuries having been released, the hospital’s chief executive said in a statement.

“We still love this country,” says iman of mosque that was attacked

The iman of a Christchurch mosque who was leading Friday prayers when the gunman opened fire said extremists would “never ever touch our confidence,” AFP reports.

“We still love this country,” said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, imam of Linwood Mosque.

Suspect planned to continue attack, prime minister says

Suspect Brenton Tarrant planned to continue his attack after the shootings at the two mosques, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference.

“The offender was mobile, there were two other firearms in thev ehicle that the offender was in, and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack,” Ardern told reporters in Christchurch.

The guns he used appeared to have been modified, which Ardern said is an issue the government will take into account when modifying their laws.

Ardern said he was in custody within 36 minutes of receiving the first call.

Ardern said the suspect was an Australian who “sporadically” visited New Zealand. She said he had not come to the “awareness” of New Zealand agencies.

The police commissioner is expected to give an update Sunday about the other two people who were taken into custody.

Reddit bans forums sharing violent content

Reddit banned a subreddit on Friday that is associated with violence where people had shared live video of the shooting. R/watchpeopledie showed up with the message “banned from Reddit.”

In a statement to CNET, a Reddit spokesperson said “we are very clear in our site terms of service that posting content that incites or glorifies violence will get users and communities banned from Reddit. Subreddits that fail to adhere to those site-wide rules will be banned.”

Another subreddit, r/gore, was not showing up.

— Caroline Linton

New Zealand PM: “Our gun laws will change”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the alleged shooter had five guns: two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns. Ardern said the suspect legally obtained the weapons and acquired a gun license in November 2017.

“A lever-action firearm was also found. While work has been done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now: Our gun laws will change,” Ardern said in a news conference Saturday morning local time.

Ardern added there were previous attempts to change the gun laws in 2005, 2012 and 2017. “Now is the time for change,” she said.

New Zealand prime minister speaks to reporters

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to reporters on Saturday morning New Zealand time from Wellington, New Zealand. Ardern confirmed the gunman had access to five separate weapons and had a license, but also told reporters he was not on any watchlist.

“They were not on any watchlist, either here or in Australia,” Ardern said on Saturday during a press conference.

“Today as the country grieves we are seeking answers,” Ardern added. “I want to speak specifically about the firearms used in this terrorist act. I’m advised that there were five guns used by the primary perpetrator. There were two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns.”

In New Zealand, anyone who is 18 years or older and passes a background check can acquire semi-automatic weapons.

Trump expresses support for New Zealand

Speaking at the White House on Friday, President Trump expressed support for New Zealand in wake of the shooting.

“The United States is with them all the way,” Mr. Trump said. “New Zealand has been a great friend and partner for many years. What they’re going through is absolutely terrible. Our hearts are with them and whatever we can do.”

Earlier Friday, Mr. Trump tweeted his support, saying the U.S. would give any support it could.

“Just spoke to Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, regarding the horrific events that have taken place of the past 24 hours. I informed the Prime Minister that we stand in solidarity with New Zealand – and that any assistance the U.S.A. can give, we stand by ready to hep. We love you New Zealand,” he tweeted.

— Brian Pascus

“I will not give voice to this propaganda”

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel expressed her revulsion toward the alleged gunman at a news conference Saturday morning local time.

“It is a act of cowardice he has performed,” Dalziel told reporters. “I guess there are no words to describe the revulsion I feel for the propaganda he wanted to bring to us. I will not give voice to this propaganda. His voice is the voice of hate.”

Dalziel then admitted she was shocked the massacre took place in her city. “Im very shocked that it has happened here, but I’m shocked it has happened in New Zealand,” she said. “The reason we have been targeted is because…we are a safe city and a safe country.”

She added, “This sort of extremism is not something we have seen here. He came here. He came here with hate in his heart. He came here to perform this act of terrorism.”

— Brian Pascus

Guns covered in white supremacist symbols

The livestreamed video of the attack on one of the mosques on Friday shows the gunman taking aim with two different rifles bedecked with myriad symbols used widely by the white supremacist movement online.

The symbols, which have become memes and been incorporated into the codified lexicon used by anonymous white nationalists in online chatrooms, range from references to battles against Muslim armies in Europe more than 1,000 years ago, to numbers that have come to represent the writings of Adolf Hitler.

Terrorism expert on New Zealand attack and manifesto

Even the music playing in the gunman’s car as he arrives to the mosque had meaning; it was a nationalist Serb song from the war that tore apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s, glorifying Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic, who is currently jailed for genocide and other war crimes against Bosnian Muslims.

Australian senator blames immigration for attack

An Australian senator with well-known anti-immigrant views has come under fire for blaming the horrific attack on the Muslim community in New Zealand on the country’s immigration policy rather than racist extremism.

“Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?” Sen. Fraser Anning of Queensland said in a tweet. Police in New Zealand have charged an Australian man with murder over the killings, which New Zealand’s leader was quick to label a “terrorist attack.”

Anning’s office released a statement earlier, which was later removed from his social media pages, in which the senator was quoted as saying, “the real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

His statement, which was quickly condemned by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, began with Anning saying he was, “utterly opposed to any form of violence in our community, and I totally condemn the actions of the gunman.”

White supremacists “borrowing” from “ISIS playbook”

New York Police Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller, a former CBS News special correspondent, told “CBS This Morning” that his force quickly decided to “increase police presence around mosques, around houses of worship,” on Friday as details of the New Zealand attack came in.

“You’ll see a public message of reassurance,” Miller said, noting that many Muslims would be attending mosques for traditional Friday prayers.

NYPD’s John Miller on increased U.S. police presence around mosques, houses of worship

The NYPD said in a tweet that additional officers had been deployed to mosques in the city. Other major U.S. cities also announced that they would increase the police presence around mosques on Friday.

Miller said the New Zealand attack was further evidence that, “in terms of tactics, the neo-fascist groups, the white supremacists, are borrowing from the ISIS playbook.”

He said it was ISIS that first instructed its terrorist followers to “die live” — by broadcasting attacks in real time via social media platforms.

Miller said white nationalist extremism was something “we monitor very carefully. It’s something that has been emergent. We’re seeing an increase in the propaganda.”

Suspect claims others planning attacks

A law enforcement official told CBS News on Friday morning that the prime shooting suspect in custody, the Australian man who has been charged with murder, claimed other individuals were planning additional attacks on mosques in New Zealand.

There was no further information available on his claim. New Zealand police have said that three other individuals were initially taken into custody. One of them was quickly released and police were still trying to determine what role, if any, the other two people had in the attack.

CBS News law enforcement analyst Paul Viollis said Friday on CBSN that while it is entirely possible the shooter was a “lone wolf,” in the sense that he may not have had any affiliation with a broader group, he may have had some help.

Given the amount of planning that appears to have gone into the attack — which involved multiple firearms, reported explosives devices and attacks on separate locations — Viollis said it would have been hard for one person to plan and carry it out on their own.

U.S. government reacts to attacks

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement on Friday morning saying: “The United States strongly condemns the attack in Christchurch. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate.”

Soon after Sanders released the White House statement, President Trump sent a tweet expressing his “warmest sympathy and best wishes” for the people of New Zealand after what he called the “horrible massacre” in Christchurch.

President Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton said Friday that it “seems to be” a terror attack, but wouldn’t definitively use the label as New Zealand’s Prime Minister did.

The U.S. and New Zealand are partners through the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing alliance, which also includes Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

U.S. intelligence sources told CBS News that they would be scouring their data bases on Friday for any reference to the suspect in New Zealand.

Shooting suspect who apparently livestreamed attack charged

Sources confirmed to CBS News on Friday that the man arrested and charged with murder for the mass-shooting attacks on two mosques in New Zealand is an Australian-born 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant.

Video that was apparently livestreamed on social media by the shooter shows the attack in horrifying detail.

New Zealand shooting: Australian man charged with murder

The gunman sprayed innocent worshipers inside the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch for more than two minutes before running back out to the street, where he takes aim at people down the sidewalk before returning to his car for a different weapon.

“I don’t know if he’s still alive or dead,” says mother of man who worshipped at mosque

“I don’t know if he’s still alive or dead,” says mother in Christchurch

Parents of a 35-year-old son was worshpping at the mosque on Friday afternoon told TV 3 New Zealand they had not heard from him. “I don’t know if he’s still alive or dead … we’ve been waiting and waiting and no news, so we came here to see if he’s inside the mosque dead. I just want to know any news about him,” the mother said.

The parents said they moved from Iraq to Christchurch 22 years ago to come to a safer country. They said he goes to the mosque every Friday.

The gunman referenced the 2nd Amendment in his manifesto

In the manifesto, the gunman rhetorically asked himself why he chose to use firearms, or guns, to carry out the attack. He answered that “I chose firearms for the affect it would have on social discourse,” adding that “with enough pressure the left wing within the united states will seek to abolish the second amendment, and the right wing within the U.S. will see this as an attack on their very freedom and liberty.”

“The U.S. into many factions by its Second Amendment, along state, social, cultural, and most importantly, racial lines,” he said.

Manifesto posted by man claiming responsibility for New Zealand shooting reveals alleged motive

Man claiming responsibility for shootings wrote of “white genocide”

In a manifesto that appears to have been posted around the time of the attack, a man who claimed responsibility for the shootings describes himself as an “ordinary” 28-year-old born in Australia. CBS News cannot confirm that it was actually posted by the attacker.

He says his parents are of Scottish, Irish and English descent and writes about what he calls “white genocide” driven by a “crisis of mass immigration.”

He says he carried out the attack “to show invaders that our lands will never be their lands…as long as the white man still lives.” He says “we must ensure the existence of our people, and future for white children.”

The purported shooter says he is a supporter of Donald Trump’s in one sense, but not completely: “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.”

Prime Minister: “It’s clear this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days”

Prime minister calls mosque shooting “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a news conference that “it’s clear this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

“Clearly what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” Ardern said.

Ardern said many of the people directly affected by the shooting may be migrants or refugees. “They have chosen to make New Zealand their home and they are us … there is no place in New Zealand for acts of unprecedented and extreme violence, which it is clear this is.”

Witness: “I saw dead people everywhere”

Witness Len Peneha told the Associated Press he saw a man dressed in black enter the Masjid Al Noor mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.

“I saw dead people everywhere,” Peneha said. “There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque. It’s unbelievable nutty. I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”

Brian Pascus, Lex Haris and Brian Dakss contributed reporting.

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