Death Toll in New Zealand Mosque Shootings Rises to 49

Apparent video of the attack was posted on Facebook, New York Times says

Last Updated: March 15, 2019 @ 7:07 AM

A gunman opened fire in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday, killing 49 people and injuring more than a dozen others.

The man, who identified himself as 28-year-old Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, filmed the attack on social media and was taken into custody, according to the U.K.’s Telegraph. Three other people, two men and a woman, were also taken into custody. Police say explosives were also found attached to vehicles they stopped.

The suspect, dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit, and carrying an automatic rifle, started randomly shooting people in the Al Noor mosque shortly after 1:40 p.m. local time.

The New York Times reported that shortly before the attacks began, a man claiming responsibility posted links on Twitter and 8chan to an anti-immigrant manifesto. The 8chan posting also linked to a Facebook page where, according to the Times, a 17-minute video, taken with what appears to be a helmet camera, showed a man attacking two mosques and shooting an unspecified number of people.

Representatives for Facebook and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment from TheWrap. But in a statement posted on Twitter, Mia Garlick of Facebook New Zealand said the company is working with police.

“Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by the horrendous shootings in New Zealand. Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video,” Garlick said. “We’re also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware.”

“We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues.”

The person claiming responsibility for the attacks said he is a 28-year-old white man from Australia who went to New Zealand solely to commit the attack, and said he used guns specifically to cause discord over the Second Amendment in the United States, according to the Times.

The Times also reported that the Facebook page and Twitter posts by the person claiming to be the shooter displayed images of weapons covered with the names of men who have carried out mass shootings, as well as notable military generals. And the Associated Press reported that the man said he considered his actions to be a terrorist attack.

The attack is New Zealand’s first mass shooting since 1990, when a man killed 13 people in the city of Aramoana. New Zealand passed sweeping changes to its gun laws in response to the event, including restrictions on what were classified as “military-style semi-automatic” weapons, and stricter gun licensing requirements.