CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - A 28-year-old man was charged with murder after a shooting rampage Friday at two New Zealand mosques in which 49 people were killed and dozens of others injured in one of the largest mass shootings in history.
The shooter, wearing tactical gear and a camera attached to his outfit, entered the first mosque and shot hundreds of rounds into dozens of people, many of them huddled defenselessly. A short time later, he drove to a second mosque and renewed his rampage.
The suspect, identified by authorities as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, appeared in a Christchurch courtroom Saturday morning, dressed in white prison garb, with close-cropped hair and looking confidently around the courtroom. The Australian-born Tarrant did not enter a plea but was ordered to return to court on April 5. Judge Paul Kellar of the Christchurch District Court ordered that any photos of Tarrant be pixelated to obscure his image.
Two others were also implicated in the crimes, including 18-year-old Daniel John Burrough, who was charged with inciting racial hostility or ill will. The second alleged accomplice remained unidentified as of Friday evening Eastern time.
None of the individuals had criminal records in Australia or New Zealand, or were on security watch lists, said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who vowed that the country's "gun laws will change" as a result of the massacre.
Ardern said New Zealand has suffered an "extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence," lamenting in particular that the violence targeted the country's immigrant population. "They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home," she said. "They are us."
The killing rampage touched a nerve around the world. President Donald Trump, in a statement issued Friday morning, extended his "warmest sympathy and best wishes" to the people of New Zealand. Later Friday, Trump said he does not believe white nationalism is a rising global danger. "I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems," he said.
The shooter broadcast the attack, which appeared live on social media platforms and was watched repeatedly across the globe. As media companies removed the video, which showed multiple people hit by gunfire, viewers found ways to repost it elsewhere.
Video of the shooting begins with the gunman driving to the mosque clad in tactical gear, his car full of weapons. It shows the shooting from his perspective - a chilling record of mass violence that police have warned people not to share. The shooter fires hundreds of rounds of bullets inside and outside Al Noor Mosque, where the majority of the bloodshed occurred, retreating at one point to his car for another weapon. He doubles back on injured victims to make sure they are dead. The violence lasts about six minutes.
Witnesses at the mosque in Linwood said further bloodshed was averted when a caretaker jumped on the gunman and wrestled away his weapon, forcing him to flee, local media reported.
Twitter said it had suspended the account where the links first appeared and was "proactively working to remove the video content from the service," according to a spokesman. Facebook "quickly removed both the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video" as soon as the social media company was alerted by police, spokeswoman Mia Garlick said in a statement. "We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware."
The aggregation and discussion website Reddit was also "actively monitoring the situation" and removing "content containing links to the video stream," a spokesman told The Washington Post.
In a 74-page manifesto released online ahead of the attacks, Tarrant promised to kill Muslims and "directly reduce immigration rates." In the manifesto, Tarrant said he intended to deepen strife in the United States over gun ownership and the Second Amendment. He also expressed his admiration for other white nationalists who had committed mass shootings.
In his manifesto, he wrote in all capital letters: "Why won't somebody do something?" He added: "Why don't I do something?"
He decided to "commit to force. To commit to violence," he wrote.
Nour Tavis, who was at the mosque and escaped after someone smashed an exterior window of the building, said the shooter turned his gun on everyone he could find inside.
"Everyone," Tavis, in tears, told the New Zealand Herald. "Young people, old man, old woman."
Tavis said he saw the man shoot a friend's 5-year-old daughter.
Health officials said 48 patients, including both young children and adults, were treated for gunshot wounds at Christchurch Hospital.
Ardern said the suspect had used five guns in total: two semiautomatic rifles and two shotguns, as well as a lever-action firearm. He had a license for the guns that he acquired in November 2017; he began purchasing the weapons that December, she said.
She vowed to spearhead an effort to change the country's gun laws, which are more stringent than they are in the United States but not as strict as regulations in Australia and much of Europe.
"I can tell you right now our gun laws will change," she said. "Now is the time."
Tarrant's manifesto was littered with conspiracy theories about white birthrates and "white genocide." It was the latest sign that a lethal vision of white nationalism has spread internationally. Its title, "The Great Replacement," echoed the title of a book by a far-right French polemicist, as well as the rallying cry of the torch-bearing protesters who marched in Charlottesville in 2017, among others.
In New Zealand, a country of nearly 5 million, more than 46,000 residents are Muslim, according to data from the 2013 census, up 28 percent from 2006.
Members of a refugee family who had fled Syria's civil war appeared to be among the victims, Ali Akil, an Auckland-based spokesman for Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, said in an interview. The family's father was killed, a son was seriously wounded, and another son was reported missing, Akil said, citing information he had received from a friend of the family.
Akil said the family had probably immigrated in the past four or five years to New Zealand, to "a safe haven, only to be killed here."
Ardern, the prime minister, said New Zealand was chosen for the attack "because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values." Addressing those responsible for the attack directly, she said: "You may have chosen us. But we utterly reject and condemn you."
This article was written by Isaac Stanley-Becker, Eli Rosenberg and Alex Horton, reporters for The Washington Post.