Shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday have resulted in at least 49 fatalities, the detention of four suspects and a warning from authorities that the danger may not be over.
In the hours after news of the tragedy broke, video also surfaced of a gunman opening fire inside one of the mosques.
Authorities say the attacks happened at two mosques in the city but urged caution across the nation.
Who are the suspects?
Police did not confirm the suspects’ identities, other than saying three males and one female had been detained as of Friday night, local time. One of the suspects has been charged with murder and will appear in court Saturday.
Authorities did not rule out the possibility of other suspects, and said none of the detained had been on any watch list.
A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left an anti-immigrant manifesto and said he was a 28-year-old white Australian and a racist. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that one of the four people detained was an Australian-born citizen.
A 17-minute video posted to social media shows a gunman opening fire in the Masjid Al Noor mosque, an apparent livestream of the attack from a helmet camera.
It shows him arming himself and walking into the mosque, immediately shooting a person in the doorway.
In an over 70-page manifesto posted to various sites including Twitter and Scribd that appeared to belong to the gunman, he identified himself as a 28-year-old white man born in Australia and listed white nationalist heroes.
How many people were killed?
Friday evening local time, authorities said at least 49 people were killed and more than 20 were seriously injured.
Where did the shootings happen?
Police have confirmed two shooting locations: One at Linwood Avenue and one at Deans Avenue in the city.
Witness Len Peneha reported seeing a gunman enter Masjid Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue at about 1:45 p.m.
Police also said there was a second shooting at the Linwood Masjid Mosque.
What have witnesses said?
Len Peneha, a witness of the Masjid Al Noor shooting who lives next to the mosque, said he saw a man dressed in black enter the building. He reported hearing dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.
When he later went to the mosque to help, he reported finding carnage inside: “I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said.
Near the Linwood Masjid Mosque shooting, Mark Nichols reported hearing about five gunshots, the New Zealand Herald reports. Nichols said he saw two injured people being carried out on stretchers past his automotive shop and that both people appeared to be alive.
What’s the response?
In a live-stream of the shooting, the gunman asked viewers to subscribe to PewDiePie, a video stream by controversial YouTuber Felix Kjellberg. Kjellberg tweeted a statement saying he feels “absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person.” He offered his condolences to those affected by the shooting.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” in a news conference and called the attack one of “unprecedented violence.”
What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us.
— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) March 15, 2019
“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam and 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim,” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted.
The Los Angeles Police Department said Thursday night it was providing extra security to mosques in L.A.
The LAPD is monitoring the horrific events unfolding in Christchurch, New Zealand. While this attack appears to be an isolated incident with no nexus to LA, out of an abundance of caution we’re providing extra patrols around mosques. Our thoughts & prayers are with all affected.
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) March 15, 2019
When was the last mass shooting in New Zealand?
Mass shooting events are rare in New Zealand. The last one occurred in 1990 and claimed 13 lives in addition to the killer, the Guardian reports.
In 2017, the New Zealand police reported a total of 35 murders in the country, most didn’t involve a gun. That year in the U.S. there were over 17,200 murders in the U.S. in 2017, according to the FBI.
Guns are not uncommon in New Zealand though, as Swiss nonprofit Small Arms Survey reports 1.2 million registered firearms in the country in 2017.
Source: Charles Ventura, Joel Shannon and Ashley May, USA TODAY
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