UPDATED 7:06 AM PT — Friday, March 15, 2019
Mosques across New Zealand are being urged to close their doors after a tragic shooting left multiple people dead.
The tragedy was all posted to social media after the suspected shooter live-streamed the attack at the Cathedral Square Mosque, where more than 300 people were said to be inside for Friday prayers in the city of Christchurch. The graphic, nearly 20-minute video showed the entire attack unfold as the gunman drove to the location and then began to perpetrate the horrible act.
The man is said to have been dressed in military-style with a camouflage outfit, and was armed with several firearms and multiple rounds of ammunition. Police also said a number of improvised explosive devices were discovered on vehicles in the immediate area.
Soon after the attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered remarks on the shooting:
“What I can say is that it is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days. Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence. Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.”
While it has not been officially confirmed, a Twitter account briefly surfaced showing photos of the suspect’s firearms and possible motivations prior to the shooting. Twitter has since taken down the account.
Residents of central Christchurch are being cautioned to remain on alert as police continue to investigate the attack.
President Trump said the U.S. is ready to help New Zealand, following the deadly attack. He issued a tweet Friday, offering his sympathy and best wishes to the country after 49 people were killed and dozens were injured in what’s being considered a terrorist attack.
My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2019
The White House also issued a statement, saying the U.S. strongly condemns the attack and stands in solidarity with the people of New Zealand.
Meanwhile, cities around the U.S. are boosting security at mosques ahead of Friday’s prayer services. So far, four suspects are in custody in connection with the attack.