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16 Mar, 2019 08:47

‘Absolutely his intention’: Christchurch gunman planned further attacks, had other firearms

‘Absolutely his intention’: Christchurch gunman planned further attacks, had other firearms

The Christchurch attacker could have killed even more people as he was on the move at the time of his arrest, and had more firearms in his car, New Zealand’s PM said, praising police who responded to the call in just 36 minutes.

“The offender was mobile, there were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in, and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters in the aftermath of the gun rampage that killed 50 people in two Christchurch mosques.

Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, was apprehended 36 minutes after the first call, the prime minister revealed as she praised the two rural community policemen from Lincoln, a small town 22km southwest of Christchurch, who responded to the emergency. 

Dramatic footage that surfaced online after the attack shows two officers – one of whom appears to be armed only with a handgun – pointing their weapons at the passenger door and then forcing a black-clad man out of the vehicle.

Police said Tarrant tried to evade arrest and did not surrender voluntarily. Later in the day, it emerged that he used five guns in Friday’s attack, including two shotguns and two semi-automatic weapons.

The man has possessed a gun license since 2017 and belonged to the local Bruce Rifle Club, and practiced shooting an AR-15 – a civilian version of the US-made M-16 – on its range, according to New Zealand media.

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Tarrant seemed “as normal as anyone else” and had “certainly” never mentioned anything about his beliefs about Muslims, the club’s vice president, Scott Williams, said. “Brenton just presented as a regular guy… We scrutinise our members obviously, but in relation to the basic rules of the arms code and how they handle firearms and follow the rules.”

Tarrant is understood to have made money from investing in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. He then used the money to fund his travels, visiting various parts of Europe and Asia.

Christchurch residents including the Muslim community are mourning the victims of the attacks. On Saturday, thousands of New Zealanders held vigils and attended mosques throughout the country to support the families of those killed.

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