On Friday, 39 have been shot dead and 20 injured so far in shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch during afternoon prayers, an attack which has once again shaken the world and directed its attention to the growing number of hate crimes all over the world.
Authorities said they had four people in custody — three men and one woman — but later clarified that only three were believed to have been involved in the violence. One man in his late 20s, whom the authorities declined to name, was charged with murder and was expected to appear in court on Saturday morning. The suspects had not been on security watch lists, officials said.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said 41 people had been killed at Al Noor mosque on Deans Road, opposite a large downtown park. Seven more were fatally shot about three miles away at a mosque in Linwood, an inner suburb of Christchurch, and another person died at the hospital.
Health officials said 48 patients, including both young children and adults, were being treated for gunshot wounds at Christchurch Hospital, while additional victims were seeking medical treatment elsewhere. Around 200 family members were at the hospital awaiting news about loved ones.
Portions of the ghastly attack at the downtown mosque were broadcast live on social media by a man who police confirmed had also released a manifesto railing against Muslims and immigrants. The 74-page document stated that he was following the example of notorious right-wing extremists, including Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., in 2015. The document, littered with conspiracy theories about white birth rates and “white genocide,” was the latest sign that a lethal vision of white nationalism has spread internationally.
Schools and public buildings, as well as the Christchurch Hospital, were on lockdown for hours on Friday afternoon as the police commissioner advised residents of Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, to stay off the streets.