An unarmed Muslim worshiper is being called a hero for tackling the gunman who opened fire in a New Zealand mosque, taking the man’s gun and chasing him away before he could kill more people.
The portrait of heroism has emerged amid the brutality of an attack that left at least 49 dead in Christchurch on Friday. Police say a heavily armed gunman burst into the city’s Linwood mosque and opened fire in an attack, part of a pair of attacks that left dozens dead.
As The Daily Beast reported, the death toll could have been much higher had it not been for the actions of one unnamed man. Syed Mazharuddin, who was inside the Linwood mosque at the time of the shooting, told the New Zealand Herald that a young man who “takes care of the mosque” braved the gunfire, all while unarmed, and tackled the gunman, wrestling away the gun.
“He saw an opportunity and pounced on [the gunman] and took his gun,” Mazharuddin said.
Mazharuddin added that the young Muslim worshiper then chased the gunman out of the mosque and tried to shoot at him, but had difficulty operating the gun. The witness said the gunman then escaped in a getaway car, noting that others took part in the attack.
The story drew comparisons to another unarmed hero who stopped a mass shooting. During an attack last year at a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee, 29-year-old James Shaw Jr. managed to tackle a gunman who had killed four people.
Shaw was hailed for his selfless act, though said afterward that he didn’t feel like a hero.
“I don’t really know, when everyone said that, it feels selfish,” Shaw said, according to USA Today. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”
In the Nashville shooting, Shaw’s quick thinking caused the gunman to flee the scene, and no more people were killed.
Shaw later said he was still processing all that happened.
“I don’t know if it has hit me yet as far as witnessing other people dying,” Shaw said. “It’s kind of, it shouldn’t have happened. When I was in the ambulance to hospital I kept thinking that I’m going to wake up and it’s not going to be real. It is something out a movie. I’m OK though, but I hate that it happened.”
‘Our gun laws will change,’ New Zealand’s leader says. Suspect had license to carry the types of guns used in deadly attacks. https://t.co/HvoIjaGSJJ— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 15, 2019
Authorities have not revealed the identity of the young Muslim worshiper who brought an end to the New Zealand shooting.