The country of New Zealand is in mourning on Friday after an armed individual launched a coordinated assault on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
According to law enforcement officials, four suspects were arrested after the rampage where at least 49 people were killed.
ABC News reports:
The shootings in Christchurch, categorized as a terrorist attack, included 41 deaths at one mosque, according to authorities. Christchurch Hospital also confirmed it was treating 48 people for gunshot wounds, ranging from minor to critical. One person died at the hospital.
Four people, three men and one woman, were taken into custody in the hours following the attack. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed one of them was an Australian citizen. The man has been charged with murder and will appear in court Saturday, police said.
Police later said one of the four taken into custody had a firearm, but was not connected to the attack. The other two continue to be investigated.
Ardern said none of the suspects were on any active terrorist watch lists and it was “not a matter of someone slipping under the radar.”
“It’s something that we never expected to have happened here,” Christchurch Parliament Member Gerry Brownlee said Friday morning, per the report. “We’re a relatively small population, and while we are ethnically quite diverse, we live very peaceable lives. And this, as many have seen, has shattered our innocence.”
“That mosque is just a short distance, about 4 kilometers [about 2.5 miles], from where I live,” Brownlee continued. “And it’s still just a shock, you know, with that number of people and such a small population in the city. Almost everyone will know someone or have a connection with the families of someone who has been either killed or seriously wounded today.”
“New Zealand is a place where people have felt very secure and very free,” he continued, “and this certainly has shaken that belief up today, and we’ve got to make sure we don’t end up with a permanent loss of the freedom that we so value.”
According to ABC News, the gunman dressed in tactical gear and live-streamed the assault on social media, from leaving his vehicle to entering the worship center and opening fire on those people inside.
In a press conference, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the day as “one of New Zealand’s darkest.”
She also described the shooting incident as “extraordinary and unprecedented.”
President Trump and the White House responded to the attack over Twitter.
“My warmest sympathy and best wishes go 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!”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also released a statement which read: “The United States strongly condemns the attack in Christchurch. We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate.”