At least 49 people are dead in two separate attacks on mosques in New Zealand – the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history. The mosques were packed with people beginning their Friday prayers when a man stormed in and began firing. Police have arrested an Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, and charged him with murder. Three other people with possible connections to the attack were also arrested.
A 74-page racist manifesto was posted online the same day by a man who said he was behind the attacks. CBS News has not been able to confirm if it was posted by Tarrant. But it lays out the alleged motive, citing anti-immigrant sentiment and revenge for past terror attacks in Europe, reports CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste.
In the rambling manifesto, a 28-year-old white Australian man who claimed responsibility for the attack called himself a “fascist” who hopes to “ensure the existence of our people, and a future for white children.”
The manifesto’s anti-immigrant rhetoric drew sharp condemnation from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“We stand here and condemn absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist,” Morrison said.
The shooting began on South Island in Christchurch at the Al Noor mosque and continued at the Lindwood mosque around four miles away. The gunman appeared to livestream the first attack on Facebook. At the beginning of the video, he turns the camera and shows his face.
The manifesto also made several references to the United States. In one portion, the author responded to a self-directed question about whether he supports President Trump. He wrote, “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.”
It also cited the Second Amendment and said he chose guns as his method of killing to divide the country. He said his goal of the attack was “to create conflict between the two ideologies within the United States on the ownership of firearms.”
One woman claiming to be the shooter’s former boss says she never saw any warning signs. “I can’t believe that somebody I’ve probably had daily dealings with and had shared conversations with and interacted with would be capable of something to this extreme,” she said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country will not fall to extremism.
“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand… It is their home. They are us,” Ardern said.
According to New Zealand police, the suspect was not on a terror watch list, either in New Zealand or Australia – and authorities had no reason to believe the shooter was dangerous leading up to the attack.