NZ Terror Attack: Shooter Smirks After Being Charged With Murder
A right-wing extremist who filmed himself on a shooting rampage that left 49 mosque-goers dead flashed a white power gesture as he appeared in a New Zealand court on Saturday, 16 March, charged with murder.
Australian-born 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant stood in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison smock, as the judge read a single murder charge against him. A raft of further charges are expected.
Flanked by armed police, he made an upside-down "okay" signal – a symbol used by white power groups across the globe – and smirked when the media persons photographed him during the hearing, reported New Zealand Herald. He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance which is scheduled for 5 April.
The attack has prompted an outpouring of grief and deep shock in this usually peaceful and hospitable country, which prides itself on welcoming refugees fleeing violence or persecution.
The last comparable mass shooting in New Zealand was almost three decades ago, and the annual murder rate is usually around 50 people for the entire country.
Although shops were shuttered and many decided to stay at home on Saturday, bouquets piled up at a makeshift memorial near the Al Noor mosque, many accompanied with handwritten letters laden with sadness and disbelief.
"I am so sorry that you were not safe here. Our hearts are breaking for your loss," read one of the notes marked with a string of x-kisses.
Two semi-automatic weapons, reportedly AR-15s, two shotguns and a lever-action gun were used in the attacks. Ardern said some of the guns had been modified to make them deadlier.
The suspect documented his radicalisation and two years of preparations in a lengthy, meandering and conspiracy filled far-right "manifesto".
(With inputs from New Zealand Herald and PTI.)