March 15, 2019 8:26 am
Updated: March 16, 2019 2:18 am

New Zealand PM says Christchurch shooting suspect planned to continue his attack

WATCH: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the suspect in the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, NZ, was taken into custody 36 minutes from "the first call" and that he intended to "continue with his attack."

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the suspect in the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch planned to continue his attack, she said Friday.

“There were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in, and it absolutely was his intention to continue with this attack,” she told a news conference.

WATCH: Jacinda Ardern vows to change New Zealand`s gun laws after Christchurch massacre

He was arrested 36 minutes after the first call to police, Ardern added.

The prime minister went on to say that the suspect, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, will appear in court on April 5.

Ardern said this one day after shootings that killed 49 people and injured 20 others, and that had her pledging to strengthen firearms laws in the wake of the massacre.

READ MORE: Christchurch shooting: 50 killed at 2 mosques, 1 man charged with murder

“Our gun laws will change,” she said. “There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017, now is the time for change.”

She said five guns were used by the primary perpetrator of Friday’s attack, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns. The shooter was in possession of a gun licence obtained in November 2017.

WATCH:  PM Jacinda Ardern on the New Zealand terror attack

Tarrant appeared in court on Saturday morning local time. He has been charged with murder, though police said they expect further charges to be laid.

Ardern said that investigators are working to determine whether two others who were taken into custody in relation to the massacre were directly involved.

WATCH: Police in New Zealand believe suspect in custody responsible for both mosque shootings


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None of the three individuals arrested were on any watchlists in New Zealand or Australia, nor did they have any history of criminal activity, Ardern said.

READ MORE: What we know about the suspects in New Zealand terror attacks

Officers searched a property in Dunedin, New Zealand, that is believed to be connected to the attack.

The property on Somerville Street is “a location of interest in relation to the serious firearms incident in Christchurch,” police wrote on Twitter at 10:40 p.m. local time, about nine hours after the deadly shooting.

WATCH: Suspect in Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shootings was ‘non-compliant,’ had IEDs

The mass shootings at two mosques took place Friday afternoon local time. Police also defused explosive devices during their investigation.

WATCH: Timeline of New Zealand mosque shootings

A video of one of the shootings was live streamed on Facebook by a man identifying himself as Tarrant.

New Zealand Police advised the public Saturday that sharing the video is an offence.

“We would also like to remind the public that it is an offence to distribute an objectionable publication and that is punishable by imprisonment,” the police wrote on Facebook.

Of the 42 people injured, police said that two are in critical condition and one, a four-year-old child, was being transported to a hospital in Auckland.

WATCH: New Zealand police discuss suspects in Christchurch mosque shootings

Funeral for victims were planned for Saturday.

Most victims were refugees or migrants who had come from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Malaysia, Turkey, India and Indonesia.

 

 

Muslims make up approximately one per cent of the population in New Zealand.

WATCH: Police deployed across New Zealand following mosque attacks

Ardern previously called the event a well-planned “terrorist attack,” and the country’s threat level was raised from low to high.  That’s the second-highest security threat level for the country.

She said authorities had no reason to believe there were more suspects, but “we are not assuming that at this stage.”

A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings said in a manifesto that espoused hate against Muslims and immigrants that he was a 28-year-old white Australian who came to New Zealand only to plan and train for the attack.

The mayor of Christchurch said she believes her community was targeted because “we are a safe city and a safe country.”

WATCH: Christchurch mayor says ‘we’ve all been affected’

Lianne Dalziel told reporters flags are flying at half mast until further notice as an expression of support for the Muslim community, and several events are cancelled as the city grapples with the tragedy.

Police have said they will be will be providing a “visible police presence” at community events this weekend for safety and reassurance.

WATCH: New Zealand police talk about their response time to mosque shootings

With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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