Many people were killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, a witness said.
Police in New Zealand say multiple people have been killed in shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch in what the country’s prime minister has called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
One person is custody, police confirmed Friday evening local time, but officials say others could be involved. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said there may have been other locations that were “under threat.”
“This is an evolving incident and we are working to confirm the facts, however we can confirm there have been a number of fatalities,” police said in a statement posted to social media.
“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
Police confirmed two shooting locations: One at Linwood Avenue and one at Deans Avenue in the city.
A man dressed in black entered the Masjid Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue at about 1:45 p.m., witness Len Peneha said. Then, Peneha heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque.
The reported shooter fled the mosque and dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in Peneha’s driveway, he said. Peneha went into the mosque to try to help, he said.
“I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said. “I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”
Authorities are asking mosques across New Zealand to close in the wake of the incident, according to a New Zealand police tweet.
Speaking to CNN, witness Mohan Ibn Ibrahim said he was inside the mosque when the gunman opened fire.
“I was in the mosque. It’s a big mosque and there were more than 200 people inside. The gunmen came from the backside. Gunshots went on for a long time. We had to jump the wall to escape. I saw lots of broken glass and bricks on the backside of the mosque,” he said.
He said that he had a friend in another mosque in the area had told him a gunman had opened fire there.
Contributing: Mike James, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/03/14/new-zealand-mosque-shooting-police-critical-incident/3170349002/