The victims of the Christchurch Mosque Shooting1:26
Names of the Christchurch Shooting victims have been revealed as survivors share stories and vigils are held across the world.
The two New Zealand police officers who dragged Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant from his car after he allegedly massacred 50 people at two Christchurch mosques had come straight from a training session on learning to deal with armed offenders.
According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, the two officers responded to reports of the shooting and took to the streets to find the 28-year-old Grafton man.
The pair’s boss, rural response manager Senior Sergeant Pete Stills said the officers had travelled to Christchurch for a training session at Princess Margaret Hospital in Cashmere.
“They were actually training when the call came through that there was an active armed offender in Christchurch,” Sergeant Stills told the New Zealand Herald.
The pair reportedly spotted a “suspicious car”, “weaving in and out of lanes with its hazard lights on.”
Seargent Stills said the officers confirmed the car’s registration and saw that someone fitting Tarrant’s description was behind the wheel.
“They were trying to catch up with him, they were discussing tactics — did they want to pursue him?” Seargent Stills told the newspaper.
Stills said the officers thought about pursuing the car but had concerns the gunman could have got away and “unleashed” on more members of the public.
The two then decided to “ram” Tarrant’s car to stop any further bloodshed.
“They decided to bring it to an end as quickly as possible and they decided to immobilise the car by ramming it,” Seargent Stills told the outlet.
They then dragged Tarrant from the car, before one officer detected “high risk” items in the back.
“He yelled at members of the public to get back,” Seargent Stills said.
“The car posed a danger.”
Once Tarrant was contained both officers reportedly alerted other police to the situation.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the alleged gunman did not give himself up and was “non compliant”.
Seargent Stills said he was “proud” of his officers and said he was “surprised how calm and collected they were”.
“They wouldn’t have been scared, we practice for this stuff — to be honest, it was lucky two officers with that amount of service and experience were there.
Seargent Stills said the officers have more than 40 years of policing between them and had the experience to handle the situation.
ACCUSED GUNMAN A ‘MARKED MAN’ IN PRISON
Accused Christchurch gunman, Brenton Tarrant, has been warned he’s a “marked man” in prison.
Gang members who came to pay their respects to the victims of Friday’s shooting have told the New Zealand Herald that Tarrant could be targeted in prison.
“That stuff that happened [on Friday], that was disgusting, there was no need for it. We’re a club, we do our things but, nah, that’s just wrong in every way possible,” one man told the New Zealand Herald.
In what seemed a clear warning, another man told the newspaper, “we’ve got friends inside, too.”
Criminal justice advocate Sir Kim Workman told the New Zealand Herald he had heard that Tarrant could be in danger.
“That’s a matter I’m sure Corrections will be talking about as we speak,” he said.
“Those sorts of feelings will run high with the prisons. The only thing that Corrections can do is to segregate them and keep them in separate custodial management regimes.”
He said Tarrant would likely be kept in solitary confinement for his own safety.
NZ BEGINS TERROR FIGHTBACK
It comes as Prime Minister Ardern said she has sought advice on the possible deportation of alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant to Australia.
Ms Ardern was asked by reporters whether Tarrant was likely to be deported to Australia.
“I don’t want to go to far down that track while we’re obviously in early stages. Charges have been laid, we can expect additional charges, he’ll be appearing in the High Court on the 5th of April, so there’s obviously a process that needs to be gone through here.
“But I can say I am seeking advice on what will happen thereafter.”
Ms Ardern would not say how long Tarrant had been in New Zealand but said he had visited “sporadically”.
Currently, Tarrant is charged with one count of murder under the Crimes Act.
Meanwhile, police have been deployed across Christchurch as Ms Ardern said public safety remained her top priority in the wake of the devastating terror attack that claimed its 50th victim.
Ms Ardern said 120 extra police would be largely on the beat in the city for public safety and 200 staff mobilised for grief and trauma support, some specialists assigned to schools particularly where the victims were studying.
She said the city was distressed and all had to be done to assure them.
Ms Ardern’s assurance during a live broadcast on Sunday came as police made another arrest on the periphery of the central investigation.
FAMILY ‘GOBSMACKED’ BY SHOOTINGS
Meanwhile, relatives of Tarrant have spoken of their devastation of the shootings.
Speaking to Nine, Brenton Tarrant’s grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, said the family was gobsmacked he’d been allegedly involved in the shootings.
“It’s just so much of everything to take in that somebody in our family would do anything like this,” Fitzgerald, 81, told Nine from Grafton where Tarrant grew up.
“The media is saying he has planned it for a long time so he is obviously not of sound mind.” Tarrant reportedly went to Europe after his father died of cancer in 2010 and came back a different man, Mrs Fitzgerald said.
“It’s only since he travelled overseas, I think, that the boy has changed completely to the boy we knew,” she said.
Tarrant’s uncle Terry Fitzgerald apologised on behalf of the family for his nephew’s alleged crime.
“We are so sorry for the families over there, for the dead and the injured,” he told Nine.
“What he has done is just not right.”
Tarrant’s grandmother added that he had spent most of his time in high school “playing computer games”.
The family said they had seen Tarrant a year ago at a dinner for his sister’s birthday in Grafton.
Tarrant’s sister and mother have been put under police protection after the attack.
Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Adel Salman spoke about his sympathy for the victim’s of Friday’s attack, including the alleged gunman’s relatives.
“It is a horrendous massacre and has many victims … even the family of the alleged killer. My heart goes out to them as well,” he told AAP.
FAMILES EAGER TO BURY DEAD
Anguished relatives continue to wait for authorities to release the remains of those who were killed in massacres at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, after the death toll from the racist attacks had risen to 50.
Islamic law calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours. But more than two days after the worst terrorist attack in the country’s modern history, relatives remained unsure when they would be able to bury their loved ones.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police were working with pathologists and coroners to release the bodies as soon as they could.
“We have to be absolutely clear on the cause of death and confirm their identity before that can happen,” he said. “But we are so aware of the cultural and religious needs. So we are doing that as quickly and as sensitively as possible.”
Ms Ardern said a small number of bodies had started being released to families on Sunday evening, and authorities hoped to release all the bodies by Wednesday. But by the end of Sunday night, it was not clear whether any bodies had been released.
Police said they had released a preliminary list of the victims to families, which has helped give closure to some relatives who were waiting for any news. The scale of the tragedy and the task still ahead became clear as supporters arrived from across the country to help with the burial rituals in Christchurch and authorities sent in backhoes to dig new graves in a Muslim burial area that was newly fenced off and blocked from view with white netting.
Thirty-four injured victims remained at Christchurch Hospital, where officials said 12 were in critical condition. And a 4-year-old girl at a children’s hospital in Auckland was also listed as critical.
Javed Dadabhai, who flew from Auckland after learning about the death of his 35-year-old cousin, Junaid Mortara, said the Muslim community was being patient. “The family understands that it’s a crime scene. It’s going to be a criminal charge against the guy who’s done this, so they need to be pretty thorough,” he said.
Still, it was hard, he said, because the grieving process wouldn’t really begin until he could bury his cousin.
Dozens of Muslim supporters gathered at a centre set up for victims, families and friends across the road from the hospital, where many had flown in from around New Zealand to offer support. About two dozen men received instructions on their duties on Sunday, which included Muslim burial customs.
Abdul Hakim, 56, of Auckland, was among many who had flown in to help. “As soon as people die we must bury them as soon as possible,” Mr Hakim said. “We are all here to help them in washing the body, putting them in the grave.”
STRUGGLE TO IDENTIFY DEAD
Meanwhile, families of the victims gave police photographs of their loved ones to help with identification but a local Pakistani-born liaison staff working directly with them, said photographs may not be enough.
“Photographs may not help all, the faces of some of the victims are completely ruined (by the shooting) so they can’t be identified like this and more needs to be done,” she told News Corp Australia.
“This was a genocide and some of the families who came here from overseas know war, they know terror, they are familiar with these things but they came here to be safe and did not expect it here. They just want to wash and bury their dead.”
Originally published as Shooter a ‘marked man’ in prison