New Zealand mosque shooting suspect charged with murder count, more anticipated

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The Australian-born man suspected in shootings at two New Zealand mosques that killed 49 people during midday Friday prayers appeared in court Saturday.

The 28-year-old Australian national, who Fox News is not naming, was seen in a white prison suit and showed no expression as District Court Judge Paul Kellar read one charge of murder to him. The appearance lasted only a minute as he was led back out in handcuffs. He did not enter a plea. He was ordered to return to court again April 5.

During the appearance, the suspect allegedly flashed an “OK” hand gesture during the court appearance. The gesture is seen as a “white power” hate symbol. The suspect’s face is not allowed to be seen in photos due to the country’s strick media laws.

The Australian-born man suspected in shootings in shootings at two mosques in New Zealand that killed 49 people Friday appeared in court Saturday, March 16, 2019.

The Australian-born man suspected in shootings in shootings at two mosques in New Zealand that killed 49 people Friday appeared in court Saturday, March 16, 2019. (Reuters)

After the suspect left, the judge said that while “there is one charge of murder brought at the moment, it is reasonable to assume that there will be others.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said “gun laws will change” in the country. Ardern said the guns used in the attack “appeared to have been modified.” The alleged gunman obtained a gun license in November 2017.

New Zealand’s Attorney General David Parker said the country’s government would consider banning semiautomatic weapons, the BBC reported.

Two other armed suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that shocked the world and is the deadliest shooting in the country’s modern history.

The suspect allegedly used a helmet-mounted camera to livestream the massacre at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch and allegedly posted a white nationalist manifesto online. The New Zealand Herald reported Ardern’s office “received a copy of a manifesto from the alleged gunman less than 10 minutes before the attacks.” The media outlet reported “70 other recipients,” including media outlets, received the manifesto.

Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019, following a mass shooting. 

Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019, following a mass shooting.  (AP)

In the gunman’s rambling manifesto, he said he was not a member of any organization but had donated to and interacted with many nationalist groups, though he acted alone and no group ordered the attack. He said he chose New Zealand because of its location, to show that even the most remote parts of the world were not free of “mass immigration.”

The video that was allegedly livestreamed by the shooter shows the massacre in horrifying detail. The alleged gunman spends more than two minutes inside the mosque spraying terrified worshippers with bullets, sometimes re-firing at people he has already cut down.

A man reacts as he speaks on a mobile phone outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019.

A man reacts as he speaks on a mobile phone outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. (AP)

At one point, he exits the mosque to rearm before going back inside to shoot more people. Eventually, the man flees as emergency vehicles can be heard approaching in the background.

Several more people were killed in an attack on the Linwood Masjid mosque, about three miles away from Masjid Al Noor a short time later. It was not immediately clear if the same person was responsible for both shootings.

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