New Zealand shooting: 49 dead, Australian man charged over mosque shootings


What we know about the New Zealand shooting

  • Police said 49 people are dead after shootings at two mosques.
  • There were 39 people hospitalized, including 11 in intensive care.
  • A suspected shooter, an Australian national, has been charged with murder.
  • Two others, whose roles remain unclear, 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”

Updates below are in Eastern Time, unless otherwise noted.

36 people being treated at Christchurch hospital

1:33 a.m.: 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.

The are still 11 patients in the intensive care unit.

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

12:30 a.m.: 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

11:22 p.m.: 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 thevehicle 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 effect 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.

Christchurch hospital: 39 patients still in hospital, 11 in intensive care

There are 39 patients still being treated at Christchurch Hospital, the chief of surgery said Friday night (Saturday in New Zealand). Of the 39 patients in the hospital, there are two children, a two-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy, both of whom are stable.

There are 11 patients considered critical and are in intensive care.

Forty-eight people were initially admitted to Christchurch hospital. Of those 48, seven were discharged and one, a four-year-old girl, was transferred to another hospital in critical condition.

The majority of the patients still in the hospital are 30-40 years old, but the age range of the injured spans from the very young to the elderly.

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

Reddit bans forums sharing violate content

Reddit banned a subreddit on Friday that are associated with violence, including r/watchpeopledie, 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

12:09 p.m.: 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.

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

10:14 a.m.: 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.”

The remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting. Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament.

— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) 15 March 2019

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”

9:15 a.m.: 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.

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

8:13 a.m.: 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

7:32 a.m.: 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.

My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 15 March 2019

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

7:00 a.m.: 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.

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.

Police search property linked to shooting

6:16 a.m: New Zealand Police said on Twitter that they were searching a home in the city of Dunedin, about 220 miles south of Christchurch, that is “of interest in relation to the serious firearms incident” on Friday.

The police evacuated neighbors in the vicinity of the home and provided temporary accommodation for them.

Death toll rises to 49, 1 suspect charged with murder

4:19 a.m.: Police commissioner Mike Bush said the death toll has increased to 49 people, with 41 people being killed at one mosque and seven at the other. An additional person died at the hospital.

A man in his late 20s has been charged with murder. One of the people in custody was apprehended at the scene with a firearm, but Bush said that person “may have had nothing to do with this incident.” Officials are still working out the involvement of the other two people in custody.

New Zealand’s law enforcement agencies had no prior information about any of the suspects, Bush said.

The commissioner said police were not actively looking for any other suspects.

He said it would “not be proper” to comment on how one suspect could have carried out the two shootings, but added: “This was a very well-planned event.”

It had been reported earlier that two vehicles were found with IEDs attached, but Bush corrected that one vehicle had been discovered with two IEDs.

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

3:49 a.m.: 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.

48 people being treated at Christchurch Hospital

2:51 a.m.: Forty-eight people, ranging from young children to adults, are being treated for gunshot wounds at Christchurch Hospital, according to David Meates, Chief Executive, Canterbury District Health Board. Around 200 family members are on site awaiting news of their family members.

“Once we have provided for the medical needs of those injured, and the wellbeing of their families and whanau, we will be able to focus on the psychosocial wellbeing of our wider Canterbury community,” Meates said in a statement.

40 people are dead, dozens injured, Prime Minister says

2:36 a.m.: There are 40 people who were killed in the two mosque shootings, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference. Dozens more are being treated for injuries at local hospitals.

“It is clear that it can only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said.

The national security threat level increased from low to high, but both domestic and international flights will continue out of the country’s airports, except for Christchurch.

Ardern said there are four people in custody, three related to the shooting. She said those three are comprised of one suspected shooter and two “associates.”

She said the suspects have “what I would call extremist views — they have no place in New Zealand or in the world.”

Ardern said she wanted to send a message to the suspects: “You may have chosen us but we utterly reject and condemn you.”

The gunman referenced the 2nd Amendment in his manifesto

1:31 a.m.: 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.

Man claiming responsibility for shootings wrote of “white genocide”

1:16 a.m.: 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.”

NYPD and LAPD are increasing security at mosques in New York and Los Angeles

1:45 a.m.: Law enforcement officials in the two largest cities in the United States have announced they are increasing security forces at mosques.

One of the suspects in New Zealand appears to have deliberately targeted Muslims in mosques during Friday prayers. The NYPD released a statement to the public saying they are “closely monitoring events in New Zealand, and out of an abundance of caution is assessing security at locations around the city.”

The LAPD said in a Twitter post they are “providing extra patrols around mosques.”

Lockdown for schools lifted, hospital still on lockdown

1:26 a.m.: Police have ended the lockdown on schools, allowing worried parents to pick up their children. The two mosques are still under lockdown as is the hospital where the victims were taken.

“We would like to reassure members of the public that there is a large police presence in the city and the safety of the community is our priority,” police said in a statement.

4 people in custody, police commisioner says

12:42 a.m.: Police commissioner Mike Bush said at a press conference that there are four people in custody. He said three are men and the other is a woman.

“I won’t assume there aren’t others,” Bush said.

He did not give an exact number of people killed or injured but said there were a “significant” number of fatalities.

He said they “aren’t assuming” it is limited to Christchurch.

There were a number IEDs attached to vehicles that were stopped, Bush said.

Police officers will now be carrying weapons.

Police urged all mosques in New Zealand close their doors

12:23 a.m.: Police said there multiple casualties at two mosques.

Police also urged all mosques in New Zealand close their doors and asked residents to refrain from visiting.

Residents of Christchurch were also asked to stay indoors.

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

11:55 p.m.: 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”

11:55 p.m.: 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.