Mass shootings at two mosques full of worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand, left at least 50 people dead and dozens more injured on March 15.
Update 6 p.m. EDT April 4: The New Zealand mosque shooting suspect appeared in a second hearing via a video link at the High Court in Christchurch to face 49 additional murder charges following the March 15 shootings.
He will now be assessed to determine if he is mentally fit for trial.
Brenton Tarrant has been charged with the murders of 50 people and also 39 attempted murder charges.
Update 11:45 p.m. EDT April 3: Police said the man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges at his court appearance on Friday.
Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant had been charged with one count of murder after his arrest the day of the March 15 massacre.
Tarrant won’t be required to enter a plea.
The judge said the brief hearing will mainly be about Tarrant’s legal representation. He has said he wants to represent himself.
Update 10:50 a.m. EDT March 18: President Donald Trump said Monday that the media was “working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand.”
“They will have to work very hard to prove that one,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “So Ridiculous!”
The gunman in last week’s attacks left a document in which he called himself a white nationalist and referred to Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity.”
In the past, Trump has drawn criticism for saying “both sides” were to blame for violence at a deadly white supremacist demonstration.
Update 11:50 p.m. EDT March 17: Leaders of New Zealand’s Muslim community are planning a national memorial burial for all the victims of Friday’s deadly shooting rampages at two mosques in Christchurch, according to media outlets.
The New Zealand Herald is also reporting that despite Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s expectations that the bodies of all the victims would be released to family members by Monday, that isn’t expected to happen now, instead authorities believe it might be Wednesday before all the victims have been released.
While Islamic leaders have said they are planning for a mass burial, the families will ultimately decide how they’ll proceed, the Herald reported.
Not to far from the scene of the Linwood Mosque shooting, burial preparations are underway at Memorial Park Cemetery where workers are digging graves for the shooting victims behind a large temporary fence.
Update 10:15 p.m. EDT March 17: The owner of a Christchurch gun store confirmed Sunday that he sold four guns and ammunition to alleged mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant in a “police-verified” online purchase, according to the New Zealand Herald.
But the owner of the retail chain Gun City, David Tipple, said his store did not sell Tarrant any semi-automatic weapons.
Tipple said he and staff are "dismayed and disgusted" by Friday's shootings, The Associated Press reported.
Tipple said the store did not notice any red flags in Tarrant’s gun purchases.
“We detected nothing extraordinary about this (gun) license holder,” he said.
Meantime, counter-terrorism police executed search warrants on two homes in New South Wales, Australia, believed to be connected to the alleged shooter.
Authorities searched a house in Sandy Beach near Coffs Harbor that is believed to belong to Tarrant’s sister, according to Australia’s News 9.
They also raided a home in Lawrence that is believe to be connected to Tarrant’s mother.
Authorities said they’re searching for anything that might help New Zealand investigators.
“The community can be assured that there is no information to suggest a current or impending threat related to this search warrants,”the Australian Federal Police and NSW Police said in a joint statement, News 9 reported.
Update 12:30 p.m. EDT March 17: Pakistan will observe a day of mourning for the victims of the shootings, The AP reported.
Vatican News reported Pope Francis offered prayers for those killed in the attacks.
“In these days, in addition to the pain of wars and conflicts that do not cease to afflict humanity, there have been the victims of the horrible attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. I pray for the dead and injured and their families. I am close to our Muslim brothers and all that community. I renew my invitation for prayer and gestures of peace to combat hatred and violence.”
Update 7:41 a.m. EDT March 17: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday that members of her Cabinet will work to change the nation’s gun laws in the wake of Friday’s deadly mosque attacks, The Associated Press is reporting.
In a news conference, Ardern added that officials will release the victims’ bodies to their families starting Sunday evening and should finish by Wednesday, the AP reported.
Pope Francis on Sunday also prayed “for our Muslim brothers who were killed,” the report said.
Update 5 p.m. EDT March 16: The death toll in the New Zealand mosque attacks has risen to 50.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed in a news conference that 50 people died in the shooting attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, RNZ reported.
He also said that 36 are in the hospital with two in critical condition.
Update 6:30 p.m. EDT March 15: The man suspected in at least one of the shootings that killed at least 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand has appeared briefly in court.
Two armed guards brought Brenton Tarrant into court Friday. He showed no expression as District Court Judge Paul Kellar read one charge of murder to him.
The court appearance lasted only about a minute and he was led back out in handcuffs. He was ordered to return to court again April 5.
After Tarrant left, the judge said that while “there is one charge of murder brought at the moment, it is reasonable to assume that there will be others.”
The gunman posted a 74-page manifesto on social media in which he identified himself as Tarrant and said he was a 28-year-old Australian and white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.
Update 5 p.m. EDT March 15: New Zealand’s prime minister said the “primary perpetrator” in the mosque shootings was a licensed gun owner and legally acquired the five guns used in the shootings.
Jacinda Ardern said the country’s national gun laws will change after at least 49 worshippers were shot dead in the two mosques in Christchurch.
Update 3:25 p.m. EDT March 15: President Donald Trump said he spoke Friday with Ardern and offered “any assistance the U.S.A. can give.”
“We stand by ready to help,” Trump wrote. “We love you New Zealand!”
Update 11:30 a.m. EDT March 15: New York police said the department is ramping up patrols around the city Friday and keeping in contact with officials at area mosques in the wake of the deadly shootings in Christchurch.
"To the Muslim community here in New York: We stand with you always, and we will remain vigilant in keeping you safe -- and making sure you feel safe, too," Police Commissioner James O'Neill said Friday in a statement. "The people we serve, in every neighborhood, must always be free from fear and have the immutable right to worship and live in peace."
Update 10:20 a.m. EDT March 15: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, said Friday in a statement that their “hearts go out to the families and friends of the people who lost their lives in the devastating attack in Christchurch.”
“No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship,” the statement said. “This senseless attack is an affront to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand, and the broader Muslim community. It is a horrifying assault on a way of life that embodies decency, community, and friendship.”
Update 9:35 a.m. EDT March 15: Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama shared condolences for the people of New Zealand in a message posted Friday to social media.
“We grieve with you and the Muslim community,” said the message shared by President Obama. “All of us must stand against hatred in all its forms.”
Update 8:55 a.m. EDT March 15: Pope Francis was “deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence” in New Zealand, his cardinal secretary of state said Friday in a telegram.
“He assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks,” Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said. “Mindful of the efforts of the security and emergency personnel in this difficult situation, His Holiness prays for the healing of the injured, the consolation of those who grieve the loss of their loved ones, and for all affected by this tragedy.”
Officials in New Zealand said 49 people were killed in a pair of attacks on mosques in Christchurch. Health officials said 48 patients were being treated for injuries ranging from minor to critical after the shootings.
Update 7:49 a.m. EDT March 15: In a tweet early Friday, President Donald Trump sent “warm sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand after “the horrible massacre.”
“Forty-nine innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured,” Trump said. “The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”
In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the attack “a vicious act of hate.”
“We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government,” Sanders said.
Queen Elizabeth II, who is head of the Commonwealth and New Zealand's monarch, said she was “deeply saddened” by the shootings, CNN reported.
“I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today,” the queen said. “Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives. I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured.”
Update 5:01 a.m. EDT March 15: New Zealand police said a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder, TVNZ reported. The man was expected to appear in court Saturday morning, The Washington Post reported. Officials have not named the suspect. Police clarified that while four people were detained, only three were thought to have been involved in the shootings, the newspaper reported.
Update 4:20 a.m. EDT March 15: New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed in a news conference that 49 people died in the shooting attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, TVNZ reported.
The attack at the Masjid Al Noor mosque near Hagley Park in central Christchurch left 41 people dead, and seven people were killed at the Linwood Avenue mosque, TVNZ reported. Another person died at a hospital, Bush said.
Update 3:14 a.m. EDT March 15: Forty-eight patients are being treated for gunshot wounds at Christchurch Hospital, CNN reported. David Meates, chief executive of the Canterbury District Health Board, said the patients’ conditions ranged from critical to minor.
One of four people taken into custody after the mass shooting attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, said he was a 28-year-old Australian, according to The Associated Press. Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the shooter was Australian-born.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a news conference, “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack. From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned.”
"We were chosen (because) we represent diversity, kindness compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it and those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack," Ardern said. "We utterly condemn and reject you."
Update 2:37 a.m. EDT March 15: In a news conference Friday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that 40 people died in the mosque attacks. Arden said 30 people were killed at the Masjid Al Noor mosque near Hagley Park in central Christchurch, and that 10 people were killed at the Linwood Avenue mosque, TVNZ reported.
Twenty more people have been seriously injured, TVNZ reported.
Update 2:24 a.m. EDT March 15: In a news conference Friday, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel expressed shock and anger after the mass shooting at the mosques.
“I never could believe anything like this could ever happen in Christchurch,” she said. “I never thought anything like this could happen in New Zealand.”
Dalziel told TVNZ, "We need to come together and care for each other, we need to make this unite us, not divide us."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the shootings “a vicious attack.”
"We grieve. We are shocked, appalled and outraged as we stand here and condemn the attack that occurred today by an extremist right wing violent terrorist,” Morrison said.
Update 1:43 a.m. EDT March 15: St. John Ambulance has transferred multiple patients to Christchurch Hospital and other local medical facilities, TVNZ reported. The news agency reported that injuries of the patients ranged from minor to critical.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to address the country at 7 p.m. local time.
Update 1:30 a.m. EDT March 15: New Zealand police tweeted Friday that while they cannot confirm the number of fatalities, “it is significant.”
Police have asked all mosques throughout New Zealand to close, and advised people to stay away from them “until further notice.”
Update 1:04 a.m. EDT March 15: Police confirmed Friday afternoon that the lockdown of schools in Christchurch has been lifted, TVNZ reported.
Update 12:33 a.m. EDT March 15: At a news conference, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said four people were in custody. Three are men and one is a woman, “as I understand it,” Bush said.
There were improvised explosive devices found in vehicles after the shootings, Bush said.
Update 12:16 a.m. EDT March 15: “This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference Friday afternoon. “Clearly what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
A cricket match between Bangladesh and the New Zealand national team was canceled. The Bangladesh team was arriving for prayers at a mosque when the shooting occurred, but all members of the squad were safe, a team coach told Reuters.
Update 11:15 p.m. EDT March 14: New Zealand authorities have confirmed that there have been multiple fatalities and one person is in custody:
“Police is responding to a very serious and tragic incident involving an active shooter in central Christchurch.
One person is in custody, however Police believe there may be other offenders.
This is an evolving incident and we are working to confirm the facts, however we can confirm there have been a number of fatalities.
Police is currently at a number of scenes. We understand that there will be many anxious people but I can assure New Zealanders that Police is doing all it can to resolve this incident.
We urge New Zealanders to stay vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.
We are mobilising resources nationally and support is being brought into the District. We are still working to resolve this incident and we continue to urge Christchurch residents to stay inside.
We ask all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice.”
Update 10:55 p.m. EDT March 14: New Zealand media said an additional shooting has occurred in a second mosque in the city of Christchurch.
Original report: As many as 30 people have been injured or killed, a child care center manager told Radio New Zealand.
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.
Peneha, who has lived next door to the mosque for about five years, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in Peneha’s driveway and fled.
Peneha said he went into the mosque to try and help, “I saw dead people everywhere,” he said.
Police are urging people in the area to stay indoors and schools in the area have been placed on lockdown.
About 300 people were inside the mosque, according to RNZ.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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