A gunman opened fire on a pair of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday, with multiple fatalities reported by police in an apparently racially-motivated terrorist act that police say was streamed live on social media.
A man — self-described in the video as a 28-year-old white man born in Australia — seems to have recorded the attack, which appears to have been carried out with a semi-automatic weapon with white writing on it. Multiple reports on Thursday indicated that the gunman left a lengthy manifesto online where he explained the attack was motivated by white supremacy, labeling the victims as “invaders.”
A witness at one of the mosques said the gunman was “continuously shooting for ten to 15 minutes.” According to CNN, the gunfire beginning around 1:40 p.m. local time when there was a “gunfire sound coming from the back side.” The details of the incidents are horrific, as the story broke late at night Thursday in the United States as officials on the other side of the world tried to get a grasp on the scale of the attack.
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern called the mass shootings on Friday “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” as officials pleaded with citizens not to go to mosques and to stay home until authorities have control over the situation.
According to Buzzfeed, the gunman live-streamed a video of the shooting, posting it online and calling attention to Swedish YouTuber Pewdiepie, who has made anti-Semetic comments during video game streams and has aligned himself with far right-wing voices.
The gunman appears to have live-streamed the shooting, filming himself loading several weapons inscribed with names into a silver van and driving to the mosque.
Gun drawn, he walks through a gate to the entrance of the mosque and begins firing on people inside. According to the footage, the gunman was live-streaming through a GoPro device and onto Facebook. The nearly 17-minute video was also posted onto YouTube.
In the first few minutes, the gunman says, “Remember lads, subscribe to Pewdiepie,” a popular Swedish YouTuber who has spewed racial slurs and made anti-Semitic comments on his channel.
As of this writing, it’s not known how many people were injured or killed in the attacks, but police have confirmed “multiple fatalities.”
UPDATE #1 – 9:25am EST: BBC is reporting that 49 people were killed during the shooting attacks at these two mosques.