Police respond to two mass shootings inside Christchurch mosques
March 15, 2019 08:10 am
Police are responding to at least two critical incidents in Christchurch, New Zealand after gunmen opened fire inside two busy mosques.
There are reports of multiple dead and at least 50 casualties with emergency service vehicles still at Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch and Linwood Masjid mosque. There is also a heavy police presence at Christchurch Hospital.
It has been verified that at least one of the gunman livestreamed the shooting to social media, sharing the horrifying video to Facebook.
Police described it as an “evolving situation” and implored residents to stay indoors. All Christchurch schools have been locked down.
An eyewitness told Stuff NZ he had seen at least four people lying on the ground at one mosque and had seen “blood everywhere”.
The photographer working for the publication also said he had seen three seriously injured people lying on the steps of the mosque.
Another eyewitness claims he saw a man wearing a “helmet and glasses and a military style jacket” enter the mosque and open fire.
It’s understood there were two shootings — one on Deans Ave and a separate on Linwood Ave.
A man in the Linwood Ave mosque told Radio NZ there were 110 people in there at the time, with up to 13 injured.
“We all went for cover,” he said.
“When we didn’t hear anymore shots we got up. Some people ran out and came back in a pile of blood. Five minutes after that police came and escorted us out.
“I haven’t ever seen anything like this. So much racism, conflict we are getting is not right.”
It’s understood about 300 people were inside the Hagley Park mosque for afternoon prayers when one of the shootings happened. There are reports children were also at the scene and four to five men were seen being led out of the building with their hands behind their head.
New Zealand Police urged anyone in Christchurch to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour.
A reporter at the scene said when he arrived at that mosque someone was lying on the ground across the road being helped.
“There was one really quite disturbing incident five minutes ago,” he said.
“A guy pulled up in a van and shouted ‘I’m here to celebrate’ and then drove off. People were pretty disgusted at those comments.”
He said police chased after the van.
“Police are currently responding to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch at around 1.40pm,” police said in a statement. “Armed police have been deployed.”
Police have also locked down all Christchurch schools “in response to a serious ongoing firearms incident”.
A business owner said he had heard at least 20 shots fired.
“I heard 20 or more gunshots I thought something happened and the people were running on the other side of Deans Avenue and now I can see so many police.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cancelled her afternoon appointments and is due to speak about the shooting later today.
Some of the Bangladesh cricket team were near the mosque when the shooting happened and were filmed by an ESPN journalist running away from the building.
Appearing visibly distressed in the video, the team were filmed running back through Hagley Park to the Oval.
“The players are shaken up but fine. I spoke to one of them shortly after (the incident),” the team’s strength and conditioning coach Mario Villavarayen said.
“They didn’t see anything but heard gunshots. They were at the ground (Hagley Oval) and just started running.
“The coaching staff were all at the hotel. The players just started running when they heard the shots. I don’t know how many (shots) there were. This happened at about 1.45pm.”
Bangladesh team escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters. They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval. pic.twitter.com/VtkqSrljjV— Mohammad Isam (@Isam84) March 15, 2019