Gunman’s image burned as NZ death toll rises
The death toll from the Christchurch terror attack has risen to 50, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush says.
The latest victim was discovered at the Deans Avenue mosque while police removed victims from the crime scenes.
"As of last night we were able to take all of the victims out of those scenes and in doing so we have located another victim," he said.
The New Zealand Police Commissioner confirmed Australian man Brenton Tarrant was the sole gunman responsible for both mosque shootings.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today laid flowers at the Kilbirnie mosque in Wellington, where she laid a wreath and embraced mourners.
New Zealanders have gathered at hundreds of vigils across the country, leaving floral tributes and messages of support.
The massacre has caused outrage among Muslim communities around the world.
Fiery protests have taken place in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar in Pakistan, where angry crowds burned images of the NSW-born gunman Tarrant.
At this morning's media conference, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said a man and a woman arrested soon after the shootings, were not linked to the gunman.The woman has been released without charge, the man has been charged with firearm offences.
The 18-year-old man arrested was "tangential" and not related.
"At this moment, only one person has been charged in relation to these attacks."
The police commissioner said it had been confirmed that Tarrant, who grew up in the NSW town of Grafton, had used a modified a category A firearm.
HEAD OF SURGERY TELLS OF HORROR
On top of the death toll of 50, the number of people injured is also 50. Thirty-six of those remain in Christchurch Hospital.
The head of Christchurch Hospital Greg Robertson confirmed that 12 of the injured victims are in intensive care.
Of the children in hospital, "there's two other children in the hospital at present and their condition is stable". He also said the young girl who was flown to Auckland is still in a critical condition.
Of the patients admitted to hospital care, Robertson said they are "predominantly males".
As hundreds of family and friends await news of their loved ones from the Christchurch mosque massacre, the world stopped to pray for three-year-old Mucad Ibrahim.
Abdi Ibrahim has been looking for his three-year-old brother since the shooting.
Mucad had been at the Al Noor Mosque on nearby Deans Avenue with his father when the shooting started on Friday.
He is now feared dead, with no official confirmation of his status yet.
The New Zealand Red Cross website has his status as missing.
His father was wounded and is in hospital but Mucad is nowhere to be seen.
"Everyone is saying he is dead, he died at the mosque but we don't know," he said.
MOSQUE'S IMAM SPEAKS OUT
The imam of the mosque where seven worshippers were killed says that the massacre hasn't shattered his community - or its trust in their adopted homeland.
"We still love this country," said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, who was leading Friday prayers at Linwood Islamic Centre when the attack happened. "Extremists would never ever touch our confidence."
"My children live here," Halim said. "They start to … give me big hugs, and give me more solidarity," he said. "This is something very important."
CATHEDRAL BECOMES A FOCAL POINT
The cardboard church that became the symbol of the recovery of Christchurch after the devastating 2011 earthquake has again become the focal of sorrow for the grieving city.
A special service was held at the so-called Transitional Cathedral for all those touched by the massacre, regardless of denomination.
The Very Reverend Lawrence Kimberley, Dean of the Transitional Cathedral, had hoped to conduct a large outdoor service but for security fears police had the event cancelled.
Instead hundreds of locals gathered at the unique cathedral, made of cardboard and local woods, to express their grief as special prayers were offered to the dead and injured.
Rev Lawrence said in consultation with his bishop they would also offer the space for local Muslims to conduct prayers as the two mosques at the centre of the tragedy are closed indefinitely.
"We are open to let Muslims use our space to come together and pray should they need it, it hasn't been easy to open a good channel of communication because they are all in a state of shock, preparing to bury their dead and need space to do that," he told News Corp Australia. "But it is an offer we are making. The service today was for everyone to express hope and compassion … it has been a difficult 48 hours, Friday extremely difficult, everyone is really distressed, lots of tears."
He said he had put in a lot of time preparing emotionally for the Sunday service.
"These sort of services carry a lot of emotion, people come here feeling distress … people are fragile, people here in tears, there is a feeling of disbelief."
The cathedral was build after the earthquake which killed 185 people and devastated large parts of the city.
A tower at the neo-Gothic Cathedral collapsed and the whole structure "cracked like a plate". So the cardboard cathedral was built nearby as the other is rebuilt.
NEW FOOTAGE OF AUSTRALIAN GUNMAN'S ARREST
New footage has showed the moments after unarmed police stopped Tarrant's car on a Christchurch street by ramming it, dragging him from the vehicle and disarming him, turning his own weapon on the terrorist.
AUSTRALIA STANDS BY NZ WITH SILVER FERN
In a sign of solidarity, a silver fern has been projected onto the Sydney Opera House following the Christchurch attack. The sails of the Opera House were lit up on Saturday night in tribute to those who died.
The Silver Fern of New Zealand illumination represented "solidarity, support and respect".
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the display demonstrated the state's unity and compassion towards everyone affected by the attacks.
"We feel the loss in Christchurch especially deeply given the closeness of our two countries. It is as though this has occurred on our own soil," Ms Berejiklian said.
In Melbourne, the iconic frontage of Flinders Street Station was illuminated with the colours of the New Zealand flag as a show of support.
ARDERN'S OFFICE KNEW OF MANIFESTO
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office has confirmed it received a copy of accused Australian gunman Brenton Tarrant's 73-page long manifesto just minutes before he carried out his mosque massacre.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Ms Ardern's office confirmed it got a copy of the document less than 10 minutes before the attacks began on Friday.
There were 70 other recipients who were emailed the manifesto, including National leader Simon Bridges and Parliament's Speaker Trevor Mallard.
A spokesman for the PM's office said it came to an email account managed by her office and not her private account.
"The mail was setting his reasons for doing it. He didn't say this is what I am about to do. There was no opportunity to stop it," a spokesman for Ms Ardern told the NZ Herald.
Once opened it was referred to Parliamentary security and then referred to police.
AUSTRALIAN GUNMAN'S EVIL HAND GESTURES
With an icy cold stare, a smirk and a right wing extremist hand signal, NSW man Brenton Harrison Tarrant faced Christchurch District Court on Saturday on a single murder charge related to the worst massacre in New Zealand's history.
The 28-year-old, who grew up in Grafton, didn't say anything, he was not yet required to.
But his thoughts were writ large on his demeanour as he calmly stared at the press gallery, and gently rocked on his feet. Then he made a subtle "white power" symbol with his fingers and again scanned the room seemingly looking for approval as he smirked.
His appearance lasted just three minutes, before the shackled and cuffed stocky Tarrant was ushered out of the court room. He was wearing the white prison garb he was handed after his arrest on Friday.
No plea was entered but will be required when he appears next in the High Court on April 5.
Judge Paul Kellar told the court there was only one charge at the moment "but assume there will be others", the one charge sheet stating that he "on the 15th day of March 2019 at Christchurch murdered (name suppressed) … with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment".
The judge suppressed the name of the male victim out of respect for his family and the broader community.
While Tarrant's appearance lasted just three minutes, the judge spent 10 minutes to reflect on the tragedy from a legal point of view.
A large throng of press from all over the world were the only people allowed access to the locked-down court building to bear witness to the brief proceedings and he wanted to explain why the public was banned.
He said the media were "the surrogates of the public and I've taken this decision to clear the court for reasons of public safety".
But he said for openness and transparency that were fundamental to the principles of New Zealand justice he allowed the brief proceedings to be filmed, photographed and audio recorded to relay to the world's public.
He said he felt that was the court's obligation to the victims.
As a precaution however he ordered the face of the defendant in his court proceedings be pixelated in case identity was to become an issue.
He said the recording on a pool basis followed applications by the media from Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. He issued an 11-page instruction document to each individual press person in the room as a "reminder you are the eyes and ears of the public" and beholden to fair and balanced reporting.
Outside the court house, dozens of locals lined up on the steps behind a police cordon to catch a glimpse of the man who has traumatised their city. One man attempted to get into court and vocally threatened "to knife" the accused before he was moved on by police. Tensions were running high in this city. As the court case was going on, a few hundreds of metres away a dozens of locals gathered to lay flowers and wreaths at the spot where someone was randomly killed during Tarrant's alleged drive-by shooting.
"It's too much, just too much," one woman said as she broke down in tears.
At a road junction close to the Al Noor mosque hundreds gathered to drop of flowers and show solidarity. Most of those at the site were white or of Maori descent in a show of defiance and solidarity.
Christchurch was quieter than usual with a high public police presence and some shops not opening today as the city mourns the deaths and the loss of innocence of the country, previously largely untouched by the spectre of terror.
FLIGHTS TO NZ CANCELLED
Numerous flights in and out of the city were cancelled with national carrier Air New Zealand saying it couldn't screen customers and their baggage following the deadly shootings while Jetstar flights from Australia were also cancelled to help ease the pressure on resources in the city.
NZ BRACES FOR WORST TO COME
Tarrant's high security court appearance came as the city was warned to brace for the death toll to rise.
The imam who was leading prayers at Linwood mosque on the day of the shooting said the Muslim community's love for New Zealand would not be shaken by the attacks. "We still love this country," said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, ivowing that extremists would "never ever touch our confidence".