On Friday afternoon, New Zealand was rocked as news came that a mass shooting had claimed the lives of multiple people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. The shootings were carried out at two different mosques during prayers, resulting in mass panic across the city.
Schools and government buildings in Christchurch were put on lockdown as police tried to contain the situation, and the latest reports indicate that at this stage, four people — three men and one woman — are in custody over the shooting.
Horrifically, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the man, who is believed to be Australian-born, decided to live stream 17 minutes of the heinous attack via his GoPro for his friends to watch. Along with the video footage, he also has an 87-page “manifesto” explaining why he decided to carry out the attack, which includes plenty of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Bill Shorten, the Australian opposition leader, has spoken up about the attacks in light of the nationality of the shooter, urging people not to watch the footage.
“Do not watch the footage, that is what the bad people want us to do. This is not normal, do not make this violence normal. We must do everything we can to unite and prevent this happening again.”
Christchurch mosque attacks: An eyewitness has told CNN he was inside one mosque when the shooting began, and that he heard the gunman "continuously shooting for ten to 15 minutes." https://t.co/4fFetOOEoI pic.twitter.com/qxEPljIstm— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 15, 2019
Shorten’s message echoed that of New Zealand police, who also advised people against watching the footage.
Further shots were fired at the Christchurch Hospital, which was preparing to receive victims of the shootings at the time.
It is unknown at this time exactly how many victims there are, and none have been identified by authorities publicly as yet. It is believed that many of them are immigrants living in New Zealand, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned, in the strongest terms, attacking people for being immigrants.
“The people who were the subject of this attack today, New Zealand is their home. They should be safe here. They are us. There is no place in New Zealand for extreme violence.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also responded to the news of an Australian shooter, calling it a “right-wing extremist attack.” He also offered his support and condolences to the Muslim communities in both Australia and New Zealand.
The four people in custody have not been identified by police, but witnesses described the shooter as a white male in his late 20s or early 30s. They also reported that he was wearing what appeared to be a military uniform, and carrying an automatic rifle that bore the names of two other infamous mosque shooters from Canada and Italy: Alexandre Bissonette and Luca Traini.
Nearby one of the churches was a large group of school children who had ditched school in favor of protesting against climate change, causing exceptional chaos for all their parents as the news of the shooting broke.