A right-wing extremist, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who rampaged through two mosques in the quiet New Zealand city of Christchurch, killing 49 worshippers appeared in court on murder charges Saturday.
He was remanded in custody without plea until April 5.He smiled as he stood in the dock on Saturday.
More than 40 people were hospitalised with a range of injuries, including a critically hurt 5-year-old boy flown to Starship
According to New Zealand Prime Minister, the shooter had five weapons including two semi-automatic guns. She promised to change the gun laws in the country.
Forty-two people are still being treated in hospital for injuries, including a four year old child, after an attack thought to be the deadliest directed against Muslims in the West in modern times.
The 28-year-old Australia-born suspect will be charged with murder in a court appearance that police said would be held behind closed doors for security reasons.
Outside the court, guarded by heavily armed police in body armour, the sons of 71-year-old Afghan man Daoud Nabi demanded justice.
After travelling the world “he stopped in New Zealand and said ‘here’s a slice of paradise’,” Omar Nabi told AFP. “It’s outrageous, the feeling is outrageous. It’s beyond imagination.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Saturday the victims were from across the Muslim world, with Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia rendering consular assistance.
She has called this a terrorist attack and said the shooter — who was not on any watchlist and did not have a criminal record — had legally purchased the firearms he used: two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever-action gun.
“The offender was in possession of a gun licence” obtained in November 2017, and he started purchasing the weapons the following month, she said.
“While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun licence, and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now — our gun laws will change,” she vowed.
The suspect, who was believed to be a personal fitness instructor, documented his radicalisation and two years of preparations in a lengthy, meandering and conspiracy filled far-right “manifesto”.
He live-streamed footage of himself going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away in the main Christchurch mosque.
Two other people remain in custody, although their link to the attack is unknown. A third person who was earlier arrested was said to be a member of the public with a firearm who was trying to help.
Police warned New Zealanders Saturday to remain vigilant, saying there was “no guarantee the risk is limited” to the Christchurch region.
Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were found in a car and neutralised by the military, while police raided a home in Dunedin, where Ardern said the suspect was based.
“We will be looking closely to build a picture of any of the individuals involved and all of their activities prior to this horrific event,” police added in a statement.
Tributes to the victims poured in from around the world.