A gunman wielding an automatic rifle opened fire on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, approximately ten minutes after approximately 300 people began afternoon prayers.
At least nine people have been killed with dozens injured, while eyewitnesses report “there was blood everywhere,” according to Stuff.co.nz and Radio NZ.
Another eyewitness who declined to give his name said there were “bodies all over me,” adding that the gunman emptied at least two magazines into the crowd.
The shooter was described as “white skinned, blonde, quite short and wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest.” according to witness Ahmad Al-Mahmoud, 37, who broke a window in a door to escape from the mosque.
According to journalist Nick Monroe, the shooter – Twitter user “Brenton Tarrant” who joined in February posted his intention to shoot up the mosque on social media, then livestreamed the shooting.
The gunman posted photos of his shooting gear on Twitter prior to the shooting.
Approximately 20 armed police are clearing buildings nearby, while all schools in the area have been placed into lockdown. No students will be released until the police “have advised us that the lockdown is over and it is safe to do so.”
In response to a serious ongoing incident we’re locking down number of central city buildings, including the Civic Offices and Central Library. https://t.co/tph8HFddm3
Of note, gun ownership in New Zealand is categorized as “restrictive” – as civilians are not allowed to possess handguns, military-style semi-automatic weapons or fully automatic weapons without a permit and a relevant firearm license endorsement.