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16 Mar, 2019 19:51

‘We would all probably be gone’: Heroes who stood up to Christchurch shooter

‘We would all probably be gone’: Heroes who stood up to Christchurch shooter

As New Zealanders of all races and religions gather to pay respect to the dozens of victims of Friday’s deadly mass shooting, stories of those who heroically tried to thwart the attacker are coming to light.

28-year Australian Brenton Tarrant opened fire on the congregations of two Christchurch mosques as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers, killing 49 and injuring dozens others. However, if it wasn’t for the courageous actions of several people, the death toll may have been much higher.

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At the scene of the first attack in the al Noor Mosque, Naeem Rashid was left badly wounded after he launched himself at the attacker in an attempt to shield other worshippers from the gunman’s bullets. The Pakistani later died from his wounds in hospital.

A banker in his native Pakistan, Rashid moved to Christchurch several years ago, where he worked as a teacher. Tragically, Rashid’s 21-year-old son, Talha, also lost his life in Friday’s attack.

At the second location at the nearby Linwood mosque, Abdul Aziz overpowered and later chased Tarrant out of the mosque. Grabbing the first thing he could find as a weapon, a credit card reader, Aziz then followed the gunman screaming into the carpark. He later managed to pick up a shotgun abandoned by the killer after a cat-and-mouse chase between the parked cars. Aziz threw the shotgun through the window of Tarrant's vehicle as the killer fled.

Latef Alabi, the mosque’s acting imam, said that if it wasn’t for the quick and heroic thinking of Aziz, a refugee from Afghanistan, “then we would all probably be gone.”

Outside the mosques, those working or passing nearby rushed to aid the victims before emergency services arrived. Jill Keats was on her way to the mall when she stopped after one victim fell at her car door at the al Noor mosque. Pulling him to safety, she later dressed his wounds and rang his wife to tell her to meet him at the hospital. “I never thought in my life I would see something like this. Not in New Zealand,” she told the media.

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