At least 49 people are dead and 20 are injured after mass shooting attacks at two mosques in New Zealand
A survivor of the Friday mass shooting that left at least 49 people dead and 20 injured at two mosques in New Zealand is detailing the terrifying attack, and how he managed to escape.
Mohan Ibrahim, who was inside one of the mosques when the shooting started, spoke out in a phone interview with the Today show on Friday morning.
“I was inside on the right side corner — it’s a big mosque, as you see in the video,” he said. “The shooter started shooting from the main door, the main entrance.”
“When he was getting inside the mosque,” Ibrahim continued, “when I heard the first sound, I thought maybe there was an electric short-circuit. But later it was continuously a big noise, big sound, a loud sound was happening and the windows and the glass was dropping.”
Ibrahim said he was able to escape through a door in the back of the mosque that led to a parking lot.
“Lots of people, we were inside, and there was a door on the right side for the ladies’ entrance section,” he said. “Some of us, we were able to come out of that door on the back side of the mosque.”
“I had to run out of the area and I had to jump a wall to get into the street,” Ibrahim continued, “so there was a distance in between … that we had to run and then we jumped out of that area.”
At approximately 1:40 p.m. on Friday local time, New Zealand police responded to a “serious firearms incident” at Masjid Al Noor mosque on Deans Ave in Christchurch. Another nearby mosque, Linwood Masjid, was attacked shortly after.
New Zealand police announced on Twitter that 41 people were killed at the Masjid al Noor mosque, while 7 died at the Linwood Masjid mosque on Linwood Avenue, while one victim died from their injuries in a hospital.
Explosive devices were also later found in multiple vehicles by authorities.
The White House responded to the shooting on Friday morning. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement: “The United States strongly condemns the attack in Christchurch. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern referred to the incident as “an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence” and considered it to be “New Zealand’s darkest day.”
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said. “From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned.”
A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court, police announced.bFour people, three men and a woman, are in custody.
Ardern said New Zealand was targeted because it was a place which celebrated multiculturalism.
“We were chosen because we represent diversity, kindness compassion, a home for those who share our values, a refuge for those who need it and those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack,” Ardern said.
“These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that absolutely no place in New Zealand and no place in the world,” she added, condemning those involved.
Disturbingly, a male gunman live-streamed his attack on one of the mosques.
In the Facebook Live video, which has since been removed by the social networking site, the man drove up to the mosque with a number of weapons in his car’s front passenger seat and in the trunk of his car.
The man entered the mosque and began firing on terrified worshippers.
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After leaving the mosque, the man shot a number of pedestrians before getting in his car and driving through the streets of the city’s central business district firing through his windshield and windows at other drivers.
The video has been circulating on the internet, but since it has been brought to police attention, officials have been working to remove the “extremely distressing footage.”
“Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online. We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed,” New Zealand Police wrote on Twitter.
One mosque attendee told CNN the gunman fired shots at more than 200 people for approximately “10 to 15 minutes.”
Police have asked mosques across the country close their doors until further notice.
“We are dealing with a very serious and tragic series of events,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said during a press conference on Friday. “They involve an active shooter, they involve multiple fatalities.”
“I want to ask anyone that was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand today not to go, to close your doors, until you hear from us again,” he said.