The man charged with murder in connection with the mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand that left at least 49 people dead appeared in court Saturday.
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, appeared before a Christchurch district judge dressed in a white prison jumpsuit. He has been charged with one count of murder, according to a court filing. The name of the victim has been withheld by the court.
Tarrant was silent during his court appearance. He was remanded in custody to reappear in court April 5.
The courtroom was closed to the public because of the heightened security risk, New Zealand police said.
While Tarrant is facing only one charge, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said additional charges are forthcoming.
The suspect is an an Australian citizen who was living in the southern city of Dunedin at the time of the attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Dunedin is about 225 miles from Christchurch.
Tarrant was one of three people arrested in connection with the shootings. The other two remain in custody but their role in the shootings remains unclear.
A fourth person who had been taken into custody was later determined to be an armed bystander who wanted help police.
The unprecedented attack, which was apparently broadcast live for a time on social media, shocked the usually peaceful nation. Ardern labeled the carnage a terrorist attack and has vowed to change the country’s gun laws as a result.
The shooter, who had a gun license acquired in November 2017, carried out the killings with two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever-action firearm, Ardern said.
“While work is being done as to the chain of events that lead to both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now — our gun laws will change,” she told reporters.
“It’s the time for change,” said Ardern, who had earlier called Friday one of her country’s “darkest days” and described the suspects as holding “extremist views” that have no place in New Zealand or the world.
Related tags :