- Fifty people were shot dead in Christchurch, Canterbury, on Friday, March 15, 2019, in the country’s worst-ever mass shooting.
- This timeline shows how events unfolded.
- Read our full coverage of the shooting here.
On Friday, a terrorist opened fire on worshippers at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.
The suspected killer appears to have announced his intentions in advance by posting a 74-page racist manifesto online.
The gunman live-streamed part of the attack. The prime suspect was arrested less than an hour later, by which time 49 people were dead. The death toll has since risen to 50, and 50 other people were injured.
Here is how the massacre unfolded in real time:
This article has been updated several times to incorporate new information.
Thursday, March 14, 2019: A man posted a 74-page racist manifesto on 8chan called “The Great Replacement” explaining why he would shortly be killing Islamic “invaders.”
The man said he would carry out an attack: “To take revenge on the invaders for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands.”
The 8chan post linked to the Facebook page of a person named Brenton Tarrant.
The author said he was an “ordinary White man” who “decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people.”
The person said he would carry out an attack to “show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands, our homelands are our own and that, as long as a white man still lives, they will NEVER conquer our lands and they will never replace our people.”
The manifesto espoused the racist “white genocide” conspiracy theory that other mass shooters have also subscribed to in the past.
The author said he had planned a deadly terror attack on Muslims in Christchurch in December 2018.
“It is a terrorist attack,” the racist manifesto stated, and the author promised the massacre would be livestreamed.
The remainder of the 74-page document is an ethno-nationalist and white-supremacist diatribe about Islamic “invaders” destroying white culture.
The author describes himself as a “racist” and a “fascist.”
Friday, March 15, 1.32 p.m.: The manifesto is emailed to accounts belonging to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and around 70 other politicians and media outlets in the country.
A few minutes later, the gunman begins to livestream the attack to Facebook. The stream began at an industrial estate on Leslie Hill Drive, a few blocks away from his first target.
Source: BBC News
This is the gunman’s face, as seen in the livestream. Prosecutors identified the suspect as 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, an Australian.
He then drives the short distance to the mosque, parks outside, and picks up a gun. This map shows his route.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the suspect used five guns in the attack, including two semiautomatic weapons, two shotguns, and a “lever-action firearm” that he purchased legally with a gun license he obtained in November 2017.
At 1:40 p.m. local time on Friday, the gunman enters the Al Noor mosque and opens fire.
Worshipper Mohan Ibn Ibrahim told CNN he was inside the mosque when the shooting began.
“There were more than 200 people inside,” he said. “The gunman came from the backside. Gunshots went on for a long time. We had to jump the wall to escape.”
The mosque is divided into two prayer halls: one for women and one for men. The gunman spends 6 seconds shooting people in the women’s hall, according to BBC News.
He turns to the men’s hall, continuing to fire. He then returns to his car to get another weapon.
After a pause of around 2 minutes, he returns. He spends another 2 minutes shooting, firing some shots into bodies already on the floor.
In total, the attack at the Al Noor mosque lasts around 6 minutes. Forty-two people were killed. At 1:48 p.m., the suspect gets back in his car, and drives toward his second target.
At 1:55 p.m., police confirm they are responding to a “critical incident.” The gunman is gone by the time they arrive.
Nine minutes after firing the first shot at the Al Noor mosque, the gunman drove to the second mosque, in Linwood. He shoots at two people along the way.
Yasir Amin and his 67-year-old father, Muhammad Amin Nasir, were walking on a sidewalk when a car stopped near them and a man inside began firing at them, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
Yasir manages to run away, but his elderly father is hit. The man falls to the ground, bleeding. Amin finds a phone inside a vehicle and calls for help as the gunman drives away. Nasir is taken to a hospital with critical wounds. He is expected to recover.
The gunman continues streaming some of the journey to the second mosque, but the feed stops before he arrives.
The Linwood mosque is about 3 miles away from the Al Noor mosque. It took the suspect 7 minutes to drive between the two.
Source: Associated Press
About 80 people were inside the Linwood mosque when the gunman arrived and fired the first shots there.
The worshippers were so immersed in prayer that no one reacted when the first shots were fired, the Associated Press reported, citing a 33-year-old witness Elliot Dawson, who was there among the congregants.
The prayer leader, Latef Alabi, looked out of a window and saw Tarrant, dressed in black combat gear and a helmet and carrying a gun, and thought he was a policeman. Alabi told the AP he soon heard Tarrant shouting angrily.
“I realized this is something else. This is a killer, “he said
Source: Associated Press
“Everyone, get down! Get down! Get down!”
The Associated Press reports Dawson’s friend went outside and quickly ran back into the mosque. “Everyone, get down! Get down! Get down,” he said.
Dawson retreated to a restroom and hid inside a stall, after unsuccessfully trying to squeeze through a window.
Source: Associated Press
Seven people are shot dead at the scene. An eighth died later in hospital.
Source: Associated Press
According to a witness, a worshipper at the mosque fought the attacker off, wrestling the gun out of his hands. The suspect then fled.
Aziz was praying with his family and about 80 other people on Friday at the Linwood Mosque when he heard gunshots, according to the New York Times.
First, Aziz picked up a handheld credit card machine and stormed outside to try to distract Tarrant, the Associated Press reported. Aziz throws the machine at the gunman.
The attacker dropped his gun and ran to his car to grab another weapon, and Aziz picked up the dropped weapon and tried to fire it, but it was out of bullets.
“I was screaming to the guy, ‘Come I’m here, come I’m here.’ I tried to put his focus on me. I didn’t want him to go inside the mosque,” Aziz told Sky News.
The gunman drove from scene after Aziz hurled the shotgun at his car, shattering the back window.
2:17 p.m. — A number of local schools go into lockdown.
Source: New Zealand Police
Around 2:20 p.m.: Police ram the suspected gunman’s car, and pull him out of the vehicle, arresting him on a road about a 6-minute drive from the second mosque.
2:30 p.m. — New Zealand police confirm for the first time that the incident involves a gunman.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush also urges people to stay off the streets in Christchurch and remain indoors. Shortly afterwards, the Canterbury District Health Board activates its mass-casualty plan.
4 p.m. — Bush confirms one person is in custody.
Witnesses tell media the gunman was “white, aged in his 30s or 40s, and wearing a uniform.”
4:10 p.m. — New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, calls it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
“This is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” she tells media.
4:30 p.m. — Police tell people to avoid mosques across the country.
5:30 p.m. — New Zealand police say they have detained four people: three men and one woman.
6 p.m. — New Zealand police announce they’ve ended the lockdown on schools.
7 p.m. — Ardern confirms at least 40 worshippers were killed. Preliminary counts place 30 of the deaths at the Al Noor Mosque and 10 at Linwood.
She says more than 20 worshippers were seriously injured.
Linwood says the offender is in custody, adding: “I can give that assurance: he has been apprehended. He is also accompanied by two other associates.”
Asked about the attackers not being on intelligence-agency watch lists, she says it is an indication they “had not acted in a way that warranted it.”
7 p.m. — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says one of the four people arrested is an Australian. He does not name the suspect.
9:07 p.m. — Christchurch hospital says it’s treating 48 patients with gunshot wounds, including several children.
Source: Canterbury District Health Board
9:15 p.m. — The death toll has reached 49, Bush says.
He said the attack was “very well-planned.” A reporter asks Bush to confirm Tarrant’s identity. He declines.
10:14 p.m. — New Zealand police say a 28-year-old white male has been charged with murder and will appear at Christchurch District Court the next morning. They do not name Tarrant.
Two others remain in custody under arrest. None of the suspects were on a terror watch list.
12 a.m. — 200 miles away, police surround Tarrant’s home on Somerville Street, Dunedin.
1/2 Police are currently in attendance at a property on
Somerville Street, Dunedin. This is a location of interest in relation to the
serious firearms incident in Christchurch today.
Evacuations of properties in the immediate area have taken place
as a precaution.
— New Zealand Police (@nzpolice) March 15, 2019
Saturday, March 16: Tarrant appears in court after a night in custody, where he is named officially for the first time. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 5.
Tarrant made an inverted “OK” symbol in hi court appearance, which is a gesture associated with white supremacy.
Outlets blurred his face at the request of the judge.
Reporters in court say Tarrant was smirking during the hearing.
Sunday morning — The death toll rises to 50, Bush said in a press conference.
Another 50 people were injured, 36 of whom remain in hospital, he said. Of those, 11 are in critical condition, including one four-year-old child.
This marks the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history and one of the deadliest in the world in recent history.