Christchurch man reacts
© AP Photo/Mark Baker
A man reacts as he speaks on a mobile phone outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says many people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
One person has been charged in connection with a "well-planned" terrorist attack that killed 49 people and injured dozens more in two New Zealand mosques on Friday, authorities said.

The New Zealand police said four people -- three men and one woman -- were in custody in connection with the mass shooting at both places of worship in the city of Christchurch. The charged male suspect is expected to appear in court Saturday, Police Commissioner Mike Bush told reporters at a news conference. He said the principal suspect was a 28-year-old Australian-born citizen who earlier claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said none of the suspects were on any security watch lists.

"These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand," Ardern said.

Bush clarified that police found two improvised explosive devices in one vehicle after the shooting. One was disabled and police were working to defuse the second Friday night.

At least 30 people were killed at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch and seven were slain inside the Linwood Masjid Mosque. Another three died outside the Linwood mosque.


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier confirmed that one of the detainees was the unidentified male Australian citizen. He described the suspect as "an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist."

The suspects were apprehended by local police following Friday's attack, Bush said. No motive for the attack has been determined. Investigators haven't ruled out that more gunmen could be involved but were not actively searching for anyone, he said.

Police were also working to remove an unconfirmed video that circulated online showing the Australian suspect entering a mosque and firing multiple shots at people inside. He claimed responsibility for the shooting and reportedly published a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto prior to the killings. He wrote that he traveled to the island nation to train and commit the attack.

In one video frame, the suspect is seen driving to the mosque with what appeared to be several semi-automatic weapons inside his vehicle.

Officers responded to reports of a "serious ongoing firearms incident" at the Masjid Al Noor on Friday afternoon and also responded to a second shooting at the nearby Linwood Masjid mosque.


Authorities were not sure if any other locations were under threat and urged worshipers to refrain from visiting any mosque in the country, Bush said. A brief lockdown of Christchurch schools was lifted Friday evening.

Ardern said Friday's events represented "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

Witnesses said the Masjid Al Noor mosque was full for Friday afternoon prayers when the shooting occurred. Len Peneha told the Associated Press that he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of gunshots. That was followed by terrified mosque-goers running from the terror. A suspect was seen outside, fleeing after dropping what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon, witnesses said.

"I saw dead people everywhere," one nearby resident said.

Another witness told TVNZ he saw three women shot and bleeding outside the mosque. A third witness said a suspect fired more than 50 shots, Stuff.co.NZ reported.

"He had a big gun and a lot of bullets and he came through and started shooting, like, everyone in the mosque, like, everywhere, and they have to smash the door and the glass from the window and from the small door to try and get out," he said.

Retno Marsudi, Indonesia's foreign minister, said six Indonesians were inside the Al Noor Mosque when the shooting occurred and three escaped.

"We are looking for three other Indonesian citizens," Marsudi said.

Members of the Bangladesh cricket team said they narrowly escaped the shooting at the same mosque. Players and coaching staff were reportedly getting off a bus when the shooting broke out. Tamim Iqbal, a batsman on the team, tweeted: "Entire team got saved from active shooters. Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers."


Mario Villavarayen, a strength and conditioning coach with the team, told New Zealand media the players did not see the suspect but heard shots. He said the group was shaken but unhurt.

"I spoke to one of them shortly after," Vllavarayen said. They didn't see anything but heard gunshots. They were at the ground and just started running. The coaching staff were all at the hotel."

The team reportedly fled the scene on foot to Hagley Oval where it was scheduled to play New Zealand on Saturday. That match has been canceled.