New Zea­land mas­sacre of 49 videoed by sus­pected killer

The Beaufort Gazette - - Front Page - BY NICK PERRY AND MARK BAKER

At least 49 peo­ple were shot to death at two mosques dur­ing mid­day prayers Fri­day – most if not all of them gunned down by an im­mi­grant-hat­ing white su­prem­a­cist who ap­parently used a hel­met-mounted cam­era to broad­cast live video of the slaugh­ter on Face­book.

One man was ar­rested and charged with mur­der, and two other armed sus­pects were taken into cus­tody while po­lice tried to de­ter­mine what role, if any, they played in the cold­blooded at­tack that stunned New Zea­land, a coun­try so peace­ful that po­lice of­fi­cers rarely carry guns.

It was by far the dead­li­est shoot­ing in mod­ern New Zea- land his­tory.

“It is clear that this can now only be de­scribed as a ter­ror­ist at­tack,” Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern said, not­ing that many of the vic­tims could be mi­grants or refugees.

She pro­nounced it “one of New Zea­land’s dark­est days.”

The gun­man who car­ried out at least one of the mosque at­tacks posted a jum­bled, 74-page man­i­festo on so­cial me­dia un­der the name Bren­ton Tar­rant, iden­ti­fy­ing him­self as a 28-year-old Aus­tralian and white suprema-

cist who was out to avenge at­tacks in Europe per­pe­trated by Mus­lims.

He also livestreamed in graphic de­tail 17 min­utes of his ram­page at Al Noor Mosque, where, armed with at least two as­sault ri­fles and a shot­gun, he sprayed wor­shipers with bul­lets over and over, killing at least 41 peo­ple. Sev­eral more peo­ple were killed in an at­tack on a sec­ond mosque in the city a short time later.

At least 48 peo­ple were wounded, some crit­i­cally. Po­lice also de­fused ex­plo­sive de­vices in a car.

Po­lice did not say whether the same per­son was re­spon­si­ble for both shoot­ings. They gave no de­tails about those taken into cus­tody ex­cept to say that none had been on any watch list.

In the af­ter­math, the coun­try’s threat level was raised from low to high, po­lice warned Mus­lims against go­ing to a mosque any­where in New Zea­land, and the na­tional air­line can­celed sev­eral flights in and out of Christchurch, a city of nearly 400,000 peo­ple.

World lead­ers con­demned the vi­o­lence and of­fered con­do­lences, with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweet­ing, “We stand in sol­i­dar­ity with New Zea­land.”

At the White House, Trump called the blood­shed “a ter­ri­ble thing” but re­jected any sug­ges­tion the white na­tion­al­ist move­ment is a ris­ing threat around the world, say­ing it is “a small group of peo­ple that have very, very se­ri­ous prob­lems.”

The gun­man, in his ram­bling man­i­festo, deemed Trump “a sym­bol of re­newed white iden­tity.”

New Zea­land, with 5 mil­lion peo­ple, has rel­a­tively loose gun laws and an es­ti­mated 1.5 mil­lion firearms, or roughly one for ev­ery three res­i­dents. But it has one of the low­est gun homi­cide rates in the world. In 2015, it had just eight gun homi­cides, or what passes for a bad week­end in places like Chicago.

Be­fore Fri­day’s at­tack, New Zea­land’s dead­li­est shoot­ing in mod­ern his­tory took place in 1990 in the small town of Aramoana, where a gun­man killed 13 peo­ple fol­low­ing a dis­pute with a neigh­bor.

On Satur­day, the prime min­is­ter said the “pri­mary per­pe­tra­tor” in the shoot­ings was a li­censed gun owner and legally ac­quired the five guns used. Ar­den said the coun­try’s gun laws will change as a re­sult of the car­nage, but she did not spec­ify how.

New Zea­land is also gen­er­ally con­sid­ered to be wel­com­ing to mi­grants and refugees.

The prime min­is­ter said the at­tack re­flected “ex­trem­ist views that have ab­so­lutely no place in New Zea­land.”

Im­mi­grants “have cho­sen to make New Zea­land their home, and it is their home,” she said. “They are us.”

At the Al Noor mosque, wit­ness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black and wear­ing a hel­met with some kind of de­vice on top en­ter the house of wor­ship and then heard dozens of shots, fol­lowed by peo­ple run­ning out in ter­ror.

Peneha, who lives next door, said the gun­man ran out of the mosque, dropped what ap­peared to be a semi-au­to­matic weapon in his drive­way and fled. Peneha then went into the mosque to help the vic­tims.

“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. “I don’t un­der­stand how any­one could do this to these peo­ple, to any­one. It’s ridicu­lous.”

Face­book, Twit­ter and Google com­pa­nies scram­bled to take down the gun­man’s video, which was widely avail­able on so­cial me­dia for hours af­ter the hor­rific at­tack.

In the video, the killer spends more than two min­utes in­side the mosque spray­ing ter­ri­fied wor­shipers with gun­fire. He then walks out­side, where he shoots at peo­ple on the side­walk. Chil­dren’s screams can be heard in the dis­tance as he re­turns to his car to get an­other ri­fle. He walks back into the mosque, where there are at least two dozen peo­ple ly­ing on the ground.

Af­ter go­ing back out­side and shoot­ing a woman there, he gets back in his car, where the song “Fire” by the English rock band The Crazy World of Arthur Brown can be heard blast­ing. The singer bel­lows, “I am the god of hell­fire!” and the gun­man drives off be­fore po­lice even ar­rive.

The sec­ond at­tack took place at the Lin­wood mosque about 3 miles away. Mark Ni­chols told the New Zea­land Her­ald that he heard about five gun­shots and that a wor­shiper re­turned fire with a ri­fle or shot­gun.

The footage showed the killer was car­ry­ing a shot­gun and two fully au­to­matic mil­i­tary as­sault ri­fles, with an ex­tra magazine taped to one of the weapons so that he could reload quickly. He also had more as­sault weapons in the trunk of his car, along with what ap­peared to be ex­plo­sives.

The gun­man’s man­i­festo was a wel­ter of of­ten po­lit­i­cally con­tra­dic­tory views, touch­ing on many of the most com­bustible is­sues of the day, among them the Sec­ond Amend­ment right to own guns, Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion, ter­ror­ist at­tacks and the wealth­i­est 1 per­cent.

MARK GOUDKAMP AP

Dur­ing an evening vigil at the Lakemba Mosque on Fri­day in Wakemba, New South Wales, Aus­tralia, wor­shipers pray for vic­tims of the shoot­ings in Christchurch, New Zea­land.

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