• New Zealand shootings: At least 49 people killed, dozens hurt in mosque attacks

    By: Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - According to New Zealand’s TVNZ, there have been “multiple fatalities” in a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch. New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, later confirmed that 40 people were killed during the shooting sprees.

    Police said Friday morning the number of fatalities is now at 49 people, according to ABC News.

    New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush described the incident, saying “A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” according to Radio New Zealand.

    Update 11:30 p.m. EDT March 15:

    Atlanta police say officers are conducting directed patrols around city mosques and asking them to be on heightened alert for suspicious activity. In Gwinnett County, police said they have increased patrols across the county. 

    "We hope to bring some measure of comfort to those who visit these places of worship during this difficult time," a spokeswoman said. 

    Update 11:20 p.m. EDT March 15:

    U.S. Attorney General William Barr on New Zealand mosque mass shooting: "Today's attack in New Zealand is a sobering reminder that the threat of political and religious violence is real and that we must remain vigilant against it."

    Update 11:15 EDT March 15:

    Channel 2's Richard Elliot is at the Atlanta offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), were officials will respond to the terror attacks. 

    Update 11:10 a.m. EDT March 15:

    Georgia Governor Brian Kemp tweeted his prayers for the people affected by the mass shooting in New Zealand, saying, "We stand with Christchurch - and all of New Zealand - against hate and violence."

    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 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 of God Hospital in Christchurch 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: 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 are 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.

    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 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 said 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 says 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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