WELLINGTON — March 15, 2019: New Zealand police were hunting an active shooter in the centre of Christchurch today after a gunman opened fire at a mosque inflicting several casualties.
A witness told media that a man dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit, and carrying an automatic rifle had started randomly shooting people in the mosque.
“A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.
“Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.”
Media reported that a gunman opened fire inside the mosque in Christchurch’s Hagley Park district. There were reports of armed police at a second mosque in the suburb of Linwood.
People in the centre of the city should stay indoors, police said. All Christchurch schools and council buildings have been placed into lockdown.
Police did not immediately comment on whether the incident took place in the mosque or nearby. There is no official confirmation on casualties.
Radio New Zealand quoted a witness inside the mosque saying he heard shots fired and at least four people were lying on the ground and there was blood everywhere.
“Horrified to hear of Christchurch mosque shootings. There is never a justification for that sort of hatred,” said Amy Adams, a member of parliament from Christchurch.
Muslims account for just over 1 per cent of New Zealand’s population, a 2013 census showed.