Christchurch mosque shooter told police he was one of 10 gunmen and that he planned to target five Islamic centres during massacre that killed 51 Muslims
Christchurch mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant told police who arrested him that he was one of 10 armed men and was planning to attack three more places of Muslim worship.
Police also believed the Australian killer had bombs in his car when they arrested him on March 15, 2019, after his shooting spree at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Center left 51 worshipers dead.
The evidence was presented on Wednesday by Senior Sergeant Roy Appley as part of a six-week investigation into the atrocity at Christchurch’s Coroners Court on New Zealand’s South Island.
Tarrant sits in the dock on the final day of his sentencing hearing in Christchurch
Sergeant Abbley, who was the incident controller at the Southern Communications Center on the day of the attack, read a transcript of radio conversations he had with officers at the scene.
At 2:02 p.m., one of the officers reported: “We have one offender,” according to the NZ news website Stuff.
“We have bombs in the car, he’s armed, we got him out of the car,” the officer said.
“We crashed into him… like I said, it looks like we have bombs in the back. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Tarrant reportedly told officers he planned to attack five mosques in Christchurch.
Later, another arresting officer said Tarrant told them he was one of 10 gunmen in the Canterbury region that day, and that all had military or police training.
Sergeant Abbley said once Tarrant was identified, his vehicle registration officers searched for his name on the dark web to find out more about him.
The court also presented evidence as to why St. John’s paramedics took 15 minutes before entering the Al Noor Mosque around 2:15 p.m.
An Australian police officer previously told the Coroners Court that he and an Auckland-based officer spent most of that time convincing reluctant Special Emergency Response Team paramedics to rush to the scene.
The Masjid Al Noor Mosque was the scene of a terrorist attack by Australian Brenton Tarrant
During the inquest I heard that a vehicle carrying police and two specialist St John paramedics stopped for more than six minutes on the way to the mosque.
One of the paramedics, Karen Jackson, testified that she disagreed with the Australian officer’s recollection of events.
She said she spent most of the six minutes outside the vehicle getting her ballistic gear and talking to a woman who wanted to go to the mosque because her husband and baby were there.
“There was no reluctance or refusal, and I don’t remember any discussions up to that point,” she said.
“We both had to put on our gear, which we did, and we were approached by a woman and that took some dialogue, both with me and with the police who spoke to her.
‘But at that time I don’t remember any further insistence. I just remember being told we could go to the mosque.”
Jackson told families and victims’ counsel Nikki Pender that the stop was necessary.
‘It would have been impossible for us to continue without our equipment. “It would have been foolish to go straight to a scene that could have been a scene of live fire,” she said.
Armed police officers patrol near the Al Noor Masjid mosque after the 2019 shooting
Ms Jackson said that when she arrived at the mosque, she was helping a patient who was being given IV fluids and later taken to hospital by ambulance.
She believes police who arrived on the scene before her did “life-saving work” to control severe bleeding.
Ms Jackson said ideally there would have been more ambulances at the mosque so that each patient had someone to care for them on the way to hospital, but there were plenty of medically trained people involved and police helped with transport.
Tarrant was given a life sentence in 2020 after pleading guilty to 51 murders, 40 attempted murders and one terrorism charge.
The investigation continues.