New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed the death toll from Friday’s mosque attacks has risen to 50. Bush said as police were moving the bodies from the attack, they discovered that an additional person had been killed.
“As of last night, we were able to take all of the victims from both of those scenes and in doing so we have located a victim,” he said. “So that brings the number of those who have died to 50.”
A further 50 people were injured in the attack, Bush added, and 36 remain in the Christchurch Hospital, two of whom are in a critical condition.
Four people were arrested, but only a 28-year-old Australian man has been charged with murder.
He said two people, man and a woman, were apprehended at a cordon, and that while the woman has been released without charge the man has been charged with firearms offences. At this stage, Bush said police “do not believe” either of them were involved in the attacks. Meanwhile, a third man, an 18-year-old, would appear in court on Monday.
“That arrest was tangential. We do not believe he was involved either,” he said. “At this moment, only one person has been charged in relation to these attacks.”
In regards to the police attending the scene, Bush believes their work “did prevent further attacks”.
“Those two police officers acted with absolute courage, I’m so proud of what they’ve done. They’ve prevented further deaths and again risked their own lives to do so.”
On Friday afternoon the city in the country’s south island was targeted in what has been described as a designated terrorist attack. At about 1.40pm (local time) a gunman entered the Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch and opened fire, with reports at the time six people were killed and dozens more injured. A bomb was also found in a car on Strickland Street about 4 kilometres from the Al Noor Mosque.
The gunman live streamed the shooting to social media, sharing the harrowing footage to Facebook.