A “well planned” mass shooting took the lives of at least 50 worshippers during Friday afternoon prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, shocking a nation with little history of major gun violence.
Dozens more people were injured during the shootings, which appeared to be motivated by white supremacist ideals and were 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.
The video showed a man calling out, “Hello, brother,” as the armed shooter approached the entrance to one of the mosques and opened fire.
“This is and will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference.
An Australian man, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, 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 have two other people in custody; one has been charged with “intent to incite hostility or ill-will.” 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.
Among the dead are grandparents, married couples, parents and young children. Some arrived as refugees; others were Kiwi-born. This post will be updated as more of the victims’ 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.”
Naeem Rashid, 50
Naeem Rashid is being hailed as a hero after video shows him attempting to wrestle the gunman.
“He was a brave person,” Rashid’s brother, Khursheed Alam, told the BBC. “I’ve heard from people there… there were a few witnesses who said he saved a few lives by trying to stop that guy. It’s our pride now, but still the loss – it’s like cutting your limb off really.”
Rashid was killed along with his 21-year-old son.
Talha Rashid, 21
A professor and former faculty member of the Bangladesh Agriculture University was killed in the shooting, according to BDNews24.com, a Bangladeshi news site, citing Samad’s younger brother Habibur Rahman, who lives in northern Bangladesh. Rahman revealed that their elder brother had died during Bangladesh’s Liberation War in the early 1970s.
“Now we’ve lost another brother in [a] terrorist attack,” Rahman told BDNews 24. Samad was reportedly in his 60s. His wife, Kishowara Begum, also died in the shooting.
Australia’s Bangladeshi Counsellor Farida Yasmeen also confirmed Abdus Samad’s death to BuzzFeed.
Hosne Ara Parvin, 42
Parvin was in the female prayer section of the mosque when the shooting began, according to the United News, which reported that she fled toward her husband but was fatally shot. She hailed from the Jangalhata village of Golapganj Upazila in Bangladesh.
Shafiqur Rahman, Bangladesh’s honorary consul in Aukland, told The Associated Press that he knew of three Bangladeshis who had been killed in Friday’s attack, though he did not reveal their names.
Kahled Mustafa came to New Zealand with his wife and three children to escape the violence in Syria just last year.
A friend of the family told Stuff, a New Zealand news site, that the Mustafas had “survived atrocities” in their home country and “arrived here in a safe haven only to be killed in the most atrocious way.”
Syrian Solidarity New Zealand provided a photo of Mustafa on its Facebook page, explaining that he had been at the mosque with his two sons, one of whom may also be among the dead. His wife and daughter are in “total shock, devastation and horror,” the group said, as they try to look after the other boy, who was hospitalized.
Hamza Mustafa, 14
Hamza Mustafa was killed along with his father, Kahled Mustafa. His 13-year-old brother who was in the mosque with him is in stable condition, according to CNN.
Atta Elayyan, 33
Atta Elayyan was killed while praying inside the mosque, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Elayyan was the goalkeeper for the national and Canterbury men’s futsal teams ― a variation of soccer.
Elayyan was a new father who worked in tech and was an avid community member of Christchurch as his social media posts show.
Abdullahi Dirie, 4
Little Abdullahi Dirie was attending the mosque with his father and four siblings, his uncle confirmed to The Washington Post.
Abdullahi’s father, Adan Ibrahin Dirie, was hospitalized with gunshot wounds but managed to call his brother-in-law, Abdulrahman Hashi, who lives in Minnesota, to tell him all but the 4-year-old had made it out alive.
“You cannot imagine how I feel. He was the youngest in the family,” Hashi told the Post. “This is a problem of extremism. Some people think the Muslims in their country are part of that, but these are innocent people.”
The Diries fled violence in Somalia in the 1990s, resettling in New Zealand.
Hussein Al-Umari, 35
Hussein Al-Umari was a regular attendee of the Al Noor mosque and was killed in the shooting, his mother confirmed on Facebook.
“It is with great sorrow we came to know our son Hussein Hazim Hussein Pasha Al-Umari is a martyr,” his mother, Iraqi Janna Ezat, wrote. “Our son was full of life and always put the needs of others in front of his.”
Al-Umari and his family moved to New Zealand from the United Arab Emirates 22 years ago. He had gotten dinner with his family the night before the shooting, his mother told Stuff.
This article has been updated with information on more victims and the shootings.