Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the shooting on Friday at two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand, “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
• Officials reported fatalities and said that one suspect was in custody. They asked residents of the affected areas to stay in their homes as they sought to rule out the possibility of other attackers. Local schools were also locked down.
• The police called on mosques nationally to “shut their doors” and urged people to stay away from the mosques until further notice.
• A video and manifesto that appeared to be by the gunman were posted online on the day of the attack.
Two mosques are attacked
Shots were fired at a mosque near Hagley Park in Christchurch, and a second mosque on Linwood Avenue was attacked, according to the national public broadcaster, Radio New Zealand.
The police confirmed that two mosques in Christchurch were targets of the attacks, with multiple fatalities.
They said one person had been taken into custody, and it was unclear whether others were involved in the attack.
The country’s police commissioner, Mike Bush, urged people not to go to mosques anywhere in New Zealand on Friday.
He also urged mosques nationally to shut their doors, advising them to “close your doors until you hear from us again.”
Calling the situation “very serious and grave,” Mr. Bush said that the police were in the process of mobilizing all national forces.
— CHARLOTTE GRAHAM-McLAY and MEGAN SPECIA
Video appears to show part of the shooting
A 17-minute video posted to social media appears to show part of the attack.
The clip, which may have been taken from a helmet camera worn by the gunman, begins behind the wheel of a car. A man, whose face can occasionally be seen in the rearview mirror, drives through the streets of Christchurch before pulling up in front of the Muslim Association of Canterbury and its adjoining mosque, beside the sprawling Hagley Park.
He then approaches the front of the mosque on foot, his weapon visible, and begins shooting at people at the entrance. What follows is a harrowing nearly two minutes of his firing on the worshipers.
At one point, the gunman exits the mosque and fires in both directions down the sidewalk before returning to his car for another gun — which, like the others, was inscribed with numbers, symbols or messages. When he re-enters the mosque, he shoots several bodies at close range.
After another few minutes, he returns to his vehicle and drives away.
“There wasn’t even time to aim, there was so many targets,” he says at one point, as the sirens of an emergency response vehicle blare in the background.
— MEGAN SPECIA and JASON BAILEY
An online manifesto
Before the shooting, someone appearing to be the gunman publicly posted links to a manifesto on Twitter and the online forum 8chan. The 8chan post included a link to what appeared to be the gunman’s Facebook page, where he said he would also broadcast live video of the attack.
The Twitter posts showed weapons covered in the names of past military generals and men who have recently carried out mass shootings.
In his manifesto, he identified himself as a 28-year-old man born in Australia and listed his white nationalist heroes.
He described what he said had motivated him to carry out the attack, and said he had purposely used guns to stir discord in the United States over the Second Amendment’s provision on the right to bear arms.
— DANIEL VICTOR
‘One of New Zealand’s darkest days’
Jacinda Ardern, the country’s prime minister, called Friday “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
“What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” she said at a news conference in New Plymouth, describing the shooting as “an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand.”
“Many of those affected may be migrants to New Zealand — they may even be refugees here,” Ms. Ardern said of the victims. “They are one of us. The person who has perpetrated these acts is not.”
“My thoughts, and I’m sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those affected and their families,” the prime minister added.
— CHARLOTTE GRAHAM McLAY
Murders are rare in New Zealand, but guns aren’t
Murders are rare in New Zealand, and gun deaths even rarer. There were 35 murders countrywide in 2017. And since 2007, gun homicides have been in the single digits each year except 2009, when there were 11.
But there are plenty of guns.
There were 1.2 million registered firearms in the country of 4.6 million people in 2017, according to the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss nonprofit.
A mass shooting in the New Zealand in 1990 — when a man killed 13 people, including two 6-year-olds, after a dispute with his neighbor in the seaside town of Aramoana — led directly to tightened gun laws, including restrictions on “military style semiautomatic weapons.”
Gun owners must be licensed, a process that includes a review of criminal activity and mental health, attendance at a safety program, an explanation of how the gun would be used, a residence visit to ensure secure storage, and testimonials from relatives and friends.
Much like in the United States, gun laws remain a source of heated political debate.
— DANIEL VICTOR