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New Zealand shooting suspect had 'many' other targets planned

WARNING: This story contains content that some readers may find disturbing

Friday March 15, 2019

A still image taken from video circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded, shows him driving in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday. (Social media website via Reuters)

A manifesto linked to the man charged in the shooting attacks of two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, says he was motivated by white nationalist ideology, had planned the attack for years and anticipated that he might not make it out alive.

At least 49 people were killed and dozens more injured in the shootings Friday in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is calling "one of New Zealand's darkest days." An Australian man in his 20s has been charged with murder, and two other people remained in police custody Friday.

According to the 74-page manifesto posted to a now-deleted Twitter account with the same name as the suspected gunman, the attack was planned to give him "enough time to train, form a plan, settle my affairs, write down my views, then enact the attack."

Here's what we know so far:

  • The alleged attacker reportedly livestreamed part of the attack. Police have urged people not to share the "distressing" footage.
  • The accused identified himself online before the rampage as Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant.
  • A now-deleted Twitter account with the same name as the suspected gunman had photos of weapons and protective equipment, and a link to a racist manifesto describing motivation for the attacks.
  • Photos of the equipment show names of extremist and historical figures written in white lettering on some of the equipment. 
  • One of the names was Alexandre Bissonnette, the man who killed six people in an attack on a Quebec City mosque.
  • The writer of the manifesto describes himself as 28 years old, born in Australia to a "working-class, low-income family," and said he had a "regular childhood."
  • The manifesto calls out world leaders including "terrorist" Nelson Mandela, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, referred to as a "Pakistani Muslim invader," and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is known for accepting large numbers of migrants to settle in Germany. "Few have done more to damage and racially cleanse Europe of its people," the manifesto says of Merkel.
  • The manifesto names other mass shooters like Anders Breivik and Dylan [Dylann] Roof as people who had had an influence on him.
  • The person who influenced him "above all" is American right-wing commentator Candace Owens. Owens responded on Twitter by accusing "the left" and media of saying she inspired the attack.
  • The manifesto is written in Q&A fashion. The writer says he is not a member of any political group or movement. He goes on to detail white nationalist, anti-immigrant opinions, saying he was motivated by "white genocide," a term white supremacists use to describe immigration and the growth of minority populations.
  • He says he made money investing in Bitconnect, a cryptocurrency, and used the money to travel.
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports Brenton Tarrant worked as a personal trainer at Big River Gym in the New South Wales city of Grafton between 2009 and 2011, when he left to go travelling overseas in Asia and in Europe.
  • Tracey Gray, manager of the gym, told ABC she recalled Tarrant's father Rodney died from an asbestos-related illness when Tarrant was in high school, and she believed he still had a surviving sister and mother.
  • Online accounts linked to the suspect had in recent days circulated white supremacist imagery and extreme right-wing messages celebrating violence against Muslims, and minorities on social media and message boards.
  • According to the manifesto, the attack was planned two years in advance, and the location chosen three months ago.
  • There were "many" other targets planned.
  • If he survived, the attacker planned to plead not guilty, calling the attack "a p


With files from Reuters, The Associated Press


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