A “well planned” mass shooting took the lives of at least 49 worshippers during Friday afternoon prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, shocking a nation with little history of major gun violence.
“This is and will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference. She said it was “clear” that the incident can “only be described as a terrorist attack.”
Dozens more people were injured during the shootings, which appeared to be motivated by white supremacist ideals and was streamed live, in part, on Facebook. The site moved quickly to take down the grim footage, but internet users moved faster, disseminating it across social platforms.
An Australian-born man in his late 20s was arrested and charged with murder on Friday. At a news conference, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the suspect, whose name has not been officially released, an “extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.” The man appears to have posted a link online to a lengthy manifesto packed with white supremacist references and trollish remarks shortly before the attack.
Authorities say they have two other people in custody but are still working to determine their connection to the shooting. Explosive devices were also found attached to a car nearby.
The two mosques ― Al Noor and Linwood, about three miles apart ― were full of people on Friday, generally the busiest day of worship.
Daoud Nabi, 71, was the first victim to be identified. Reports indicated that parents, grandparents and young children were among the victims. This post will be updated as more of their names become known.
Daoud Nabi, 71
The selfless grandfather died trying to save someone else from a bullet, his son told NBC News, citing others who saw it happen. Omar Nabi, Daoud Nabi’s 43-year-old son, said that his father was an engineer who took the family to New Zealand in the 1980s after the Soviet Union invaded their home country of Afghanistan. Daoud Nabi went on to use his experience for the sake of others, working to help other refugees acclimate to New Zealand, greeting them at the airport when they arrived.
“Whether you’re from Palestine, Iraq, Syria — he’s been the first person to hold his hand up,” Omar Nabi told NBC News. He provided a photo showing Daoud Nabi beaming alongside his granddaughter.
“I’m a bit lost,” Omar Nabi added. “He is a man of lots of knowledge, and I’ve been his student for a long time.”