Mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand have claimed dozens of lives in a terrorist attack on what’s being called one of the country’s “darkest days.

Three suspects are in custody following the “unprecedented event” that killed 49 people, many who could be migrants or refugees, in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities — New Zealand is their home — they are us.”

Here's what we know and what we don't.

What we know

What happened

Reports of the shootings first came in around 1:40 p.m. Friday local time (8:40 p.m. Thursday Philadelphia time), according to CNN. A witness said a gunman began “continuously shooting for 10 to 15 minutes.”

Forty-nine people were killed, with 41 slain at one mosque and an additional seven killed at a second mosque, according to New Zealand Police. One person died at a hospital. The mosques, the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque, are about three miles apart, the New York Times reports.

Forty-eight people were being treated for injuries at the hospital, police said.

“We are unable at this stage to provide details about matters leading up to the attacks,” New Zealand police said in a statement. “It is very early days and these matters will form part of the investigation.”

The attacks at the mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers appeared to have been carefully planned, according to the Associated Press.

“I saw dead people everywhere," Len Peneha, a witness, told the AP. "There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said. “I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”


Four people were taken into custody, including three men and a woman, but only three were believed to have been involved in the attacks, according to the Washington Post.

A 28-year-old man, whose name has not yet been released, is charged with murder and due to appear in court Saturday morning, according to police.

“These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact, have no place in the world,” Ardern said at a news conference.

Officials defused explosive devices in a car, according to the AP. Police don’t believe there are additional suspects, but an investigation is still active, according to CNN.


While an exact motive is not clear, a man claiming responsibility for the shootings, who said he is a 28-year-old white Australian and a racist, left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto, according to the AP.

The manifesto discussed immigrants, Muslims, right-wing extremists including Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof and conspiracy theories concerning white birth rates as well as “white genocide,” The Washington Post reported.

“New Zealand, like Australia, is home to people from all faiths, cultures and backgrounds,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “There is absolutely no place in either of our countries for the hatred and intolerance that has bred this extremist, terrorist violence and we condemn it.”

In addition to a manifesto, a 17-minute-long video by the apparent gunman were posted on Facebook showing part of the attack, according to the New York Times.

“New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video,” Mia Garlick, a Facebook spokesperson, told CNN.


Muslims in Philadelphia and around the world mourning, and leaders and others are extending their sympathies to New Zealand as the country investigates the attacks, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan and President Donald Trump.

“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques,” Trump said on Twitter. “49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

Later Friday, Trump said he did not consider white nationalism a rising threat.

“I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” he told reporters at the White House.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Philadelphia chapter will hold an interfaith vigil Saturday at LOVE Park from 6 to 7 p.m., according to a Facebook event page.

“Early information indicates that the attacker used anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric that has become mainstream globally to justify his terrorist act," CAIR-Philadelphia executive director Jacob Bender said in a statement. "We demand all responsible parties take steps to systematically respond to Islamophobia in our society.”

Philadelphia and other places are also increasing security around mosques. The Philadelphia Police Department said officers would “perform frequent checks” on mosques and other places of worship throughout the city in light of the attack.

What we don’t know

  • The names of the suspects
  • More details on the motive of the attacks
  • The names of the victims