- Three suspects were apprehended in the case of the New Zealand mosque shooting on Friday.
- The suspected gunman appeared in court Saturday morning and was identified as 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, an Australian national. Official images of Tarrant’s face taken during his appearance were pixelated due to a court order.
- Though Tarrant’s Twitter account has been suspended, a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto outlining the attack was posted one day before the shooting took place and went viral in the hours after the attack.
- The document was rife with references from American politics and video games popular with some online communities and apparently intended to grab the most attention for online and in the media.
Police in New Zealand have arrested three suspects over the fatal shooting of at least 49 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
Here is what we know about them:
- One is a 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, an Australian man, who has been charged with murder. He appeared in court on Saturday.
- Two others have been arrested. Police say they were both found with firearms near the scene of the shootings.
- One suspect appears to have video recorded the entire massacre with some form of body or helmet camera.
- None of the suspects were known to police or security forces beforehand.
- A manifesto claiming responsibility was published on Tarrant’s Twitter account.
- Police arrested a fourth person, but later said the arrest was “not related” to the shootings.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year old Australian man, appeared in a Christchurch courtroom Saturday morning on a murder charge, in the wake of a deadly massacre that left 49 people dead and dozens more injured.
Official images of Tarrant’s face taken during his appearance were pixelated due to a court order.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters at a press conference Saturday morning that the gunman was Australian-born, but most recently lived in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Ardern said he used five guns he obtained legally with a gun license, including two semiautomatic weapons, two shotguns, and one lever-action firearm.
She said he was never on the radar of either New Zealand or Australian intelligence agencies, and that authorities will investigate to determine whether there had been any social-media activity that should have “triggered a response” sooner.
“We are seeking answers,” Ardern said, adding that New Zealand will enact stricter gun-control laws in the wake of the shooting, though she declined to name specific reforms she would pursue.
Anti-immigrant manifesto was a ‘trap’ for reactions to the attack
A 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto claiming responsibility was posted on Tarrant’s Twitter account ahead of the attack, the commissioner said.
Though Tarrant’s Twitter and Facebook accounts have been suspended, the 74-page document went viral early Friday and continued to circulate in the hours after the attack.
In the manifesto, Tarrant said the attack was meant to “create an atmosphere of fear” and “incite violence” against Muslims, The Guardian reported.
These statements appear to be among the most straightforward in the document, which included scores of references to video games and YouTube channels popular across fringe online communities, a sign the document was intended to garner the most possible attention online and from the media in the wake of the attack.
After the manifesto appeared online early Friday, the shooter live-streamed the attack itself over Facebook, and the video was quickly shared across YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, piling on to pieces of Tarrant’s social media presence that went viral, detailing his possible ties to white supremacy and far-right beliefs.
Journalist Robert Evans wrote in a blog post that the manifesto was a clear “trap” for those reporting on the attack.
“[It’s] laid for journalists searching for the meaning behind this horrific crime,” Evans wrote. “There is truth in there, and valuable clues to the shooter’s radicalization, but it is buried beneath a great deal of, for lack of a better word, ‘s—posting.'”
As many pointed out online after the manifesto had gone viral, the document was rife with “s—posts,” or a bevy of online references and inflammatory statements that, while could be the true feelings of their author, are intended to ignite a reaction from readers who aren’t familiar with the online communities that operate in mostly irony.
The manifesto is a complicated puzzle that has unfolded in reports of the attack as outlets have been careful not to openly publish or distribute pieces of the hate-filled manifesto, which have been at the heart of previous massacres.
Bruce Rifle Club, a gun club south of Dunedin, confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that Tarrant was a member, and that they were assisting with the investigation. The spokesperson called him a “reasonably normal sort of dude.”
Tarrant’s former manager, Tracey Gray, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he once worked as a personal trainer at the Big River Gym in the Australian city of Grafton. She said Tarrant has travelled throughout Europe, Southeast Asia and East Asia, including to North Korea.
“I honestly can’t believe that somebody I have probably had daily dealings with and had shared conversations and interacted with would be capable of something to this extreme,” she told ABC.