Windsor Muslims react with horror, resolve after Christchurch mosque massacre

Nellie Chapman
March 16, 2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed this afternoon that her government will look into changing New Zealand's gun laws, in light of the revelation that the alleged Christchurch gunman's weapons yesterday appeared to have been modified.

An Australian national, Brendon Tarrant, 28, appeared in court on Saturday charged with one count of murder in relation to the massacre and has been remanded in custody until 5 April. He was likely to face further charges, police said.

Two other people were in custody and police said they were seeking to understand whether they were involved in any way.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the suspect as an "extremist right-wing violent terrorist".

Ardern, who flew to Christchurch on Saturday, said she had spoken to Trump, who had asked how he could help.

Grafton residents who knew Tarrant as a resident have told 9News they remember him as a "relatively normal" person who worked at a local gym.

A police spokesperson in the Australian state of New South Wales said Tarrant's family have been "assisting and cooperating" with authorities.

One man who said he was at the Al Noor mosque told media the gunman burst into the mosque as worshippers were kneeling for prayers.

"We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism", Ardern said during a news conference in Wellington.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the tragedy as a "terrorist attack" and noted numerous victims could be migrants or refugees.

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"I hate to think about it, but really when we were getting away I was fearing for the worst, I mean anything could have happened to us".

Ms Ardern, who arrived in Christchurch Saturday, said the shooter was not on any watchlist and did not have a criminal record.

Cook Islands prime minister Herny Puna said his country's prayers first and foremost were with the victims of the shooting, "their families, friends and loved ones whe are now faced with the irreconcilable loss of their loved ones". "That these innocent victims were murdered in their house of worship adds an additional dimension of horror to a deeply tragic situation", Rosenthal said.

Facebook said it had deleted the gunman's accounts "shortly after the livestream commenced" after being alerted by police.

"Our other key priority is making sure that those people so horribly affected by these events get the support and welfare that they need", the New Zealand Police said in a statement. Later in the day, it emerged that he used five guns in Friday's attack, including two shotguns and two semi-automatic weapons.

Leaders, organisations and the media around the world expressed disgust and sorrow at the killing of 49 people in shootings at two New Zealand mosques on Friday, attacks that many blamed on the demonisation of Muslims by the West.

In 2015, GunPolicy.org listed 55 deaths caused by firearms in New Zealand and 59 homicides.

"We came here as we're wondering who's a casualty and who's dead", Mohammed Ashif, who narrowly escaped the Linwood mosque during the attack, tells TIME.

Adeeb Sami's trip to New Zealand was supposed to be joyful - a chance for the Dubai-based father to surprise his twin children in time for their birthday. In addition to the 49 killed at the two mosques, dozens of others were wounded or are missing.

All mosques across New Zealand have been urged to close their doors for the time being, and in Scotland, police have stepped up patrols around mosques - however, officers insist there is no intelligence to suggest a specific threat in this country.

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