• New Zealand grappled with grief and horror on Sunday as the death toll rose to 50 people two days after a gunman opened fire at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. The terrorist attack appeared to have been carried out by a white nationalist who posted a racist manifesto online and streamed live video of the killings on Facebook.
• A 28-year-old man from Australia was charged with murder and appeared Saturday morning in a Christchurch courtroom. Court papers identified him as Brenton Harrison Tarrant. The New Zealand police said he would face additional charges, and were considering charging him under the country’s Terrorism Suppression Act.
• Minutes before the shooting began on Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was emailed a copy of the manifesto purported to be from the gunman, her office said. Many news outlets and lawmakers also received the email.
• Ms. Ardern promised that New Zealand’s “gun laws will change” and that her cabinet would discuss options for how, though she did not offer specifics. The gunman had five firearms, including two semiautomatic weapons, she said. But the issue could be a divisive one in the country where an extraordinary number of people own weapons, with few restrictions.
Death tolls rises, but there is little information on victims
The police on Sunday said the death toll had risen to 50 as officials discovered another body at the mosque on Deans Avenue, where most of the victims had been killed. Another 50 people were injured.
“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 further victim,” said Mike Bush, New Zealand’s police commissioner.
Mr. Bush said a list of victims’ names has been compiled with the help of senior religious leaders and had been shared with family members. He said the list was an informal one, though, and officials would not confirm the names publicly until the bodies had been formally identified.
The bodies have not yet been released to the victims’ families, but Mr. Bush said he was conscious that Muslim religious practice requires prompt burial.
“We are aware of the cultural and religious needs so we are doing that as quickly and sensitively as possible,” he said.
The police defend their response time
Police officials say it took 36 minutes from when they received the first call about a shooting at a mosque to when the suspect was taken in custody.
“That is an incredibly fast response time,” said John Price, commander of the district police. “You have a mobile offender across a large metropolitan city, and I am very happy with the response of our staff.”
During a news briefing on Saturday, officials provided a partial timeline but many details remained unclear. Officials said the gunman arrived at a second mosque, where he continued his rampage, seven minutes after leaving the first.
The suspect was later arrested in a car, which was carrying improvised explosive devices, by two police officers. Mike Bush, New Zealand’s police commissioner, said the officers prevented further deaths.
“Those two police officers acted with absolute courage,” Mr. Bush said on Sunday. “I’m so proud of what they’ve done. They have prevented further deaths and risked their lives doing so.”
Attack could spur political battle over gun control
The shooting has vaulted New Zealand into what could be a divisive political battle over gun control in the country, where an extraordinary number of people own weapons, with few restrictions. The authorities say the suspect in the assault used five guns he had acquired legally, including two semiautomatic assault weapons.
Within hours of the Friday killings, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised changes to New Zealand gun laws and said regulations around semiautomatic weapons was “one of the issues.” New Zealand’s attorney general, David Parker, appeared to go beyond that statement at a vigil for the victims on Saturday, indicating that semiautomatic weapons would be banned, but he later backtracked. Mr. Parker told Radio New Zealand that had been trying to reflect Ms. Ardern’s comments that “we need to ban some semiautomatics, perhaps all of them.”
“Those decisions have yet to be taken, but the Prime Minister has signaled that we are going to look at that issue,” Mr. Parker told the broadcaster.
Licensed New Zealand gun owners pushed back. The Kiwi Gun Blog, a gun-rights online publication, said that among the mosque shooter’s goals, one was “to cause the gun rights of responsible New Zealanders to be attacked.” It said “our Prime Minister is now capitulating with him.”
There is no dispute that acquiring a military-style semiautomatic weapon is relatively easy in New Zealand, where guns are plentiful. According to a 2017 small arms survey, there are more than 1.2 million firearms among the population of 4.6 million, or more than one gun for every three people.
Under New Zealand law, anyone 16 or older may seek a firearms license, and anyone 18 or older who has applied for a firearms license can seek a permit to possess a military-style semiautomatic weapon.
In the United States, the National Rifle Association, a leading advocate of gun-owner rights, issued its first statement on the attack, denouncing the killer while saying nothing about the weapons used.
“It doesn’t matter if these senseless tragedies occur in the United States or abroad, our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families,” said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the group. “This was the act of a monster. To the extent the NRA is ridiculed for extending our deepest sympathies to those impacted by this horrific event, we make no apologies for our thoughts, words, or prayers.”
At times over the years, the N.R.A. has held up New Zealand’s relatively high rate of gun ownership and low crime as proof that gun laws are misguided, but New Zealand’s laws are already more strict than the United States, which also has a higher rate of gun ownership.
The N.R.A. has tracked efforts in recent years to further tighten gun laws in New Zealand.
Cam Edwards, a host on NRATV, the organization’s online streaming service, placed the blame on social media after the Christchurch massacre.
“What’s really changed in our world over the last 20 years isn’t the design of firearms,” he said in a lengthy Twitter thread. “It’s the revolutionary way we have of communicating with strangers, creating online tribes and subcultures that simply didn’t exist in large numbers a generation ago.”
Stories of heroism emerge: “I was prepared to give my life.”
Abdul Aziz, 48, was in the Linwood mosque praying with his four sons when he heard gunshots. He immediately knew something was wrong.
Rather than running from the sound, he ran toward it and grabbed the first thing he could find — a credit card machine — and flung it at the attacker. He tried to distract the attacker in a move that many fellow worshipers have described as heroic, weaving through cars in the parking lot, attempting to draw the gunman’s attention away from the mosque.
Latef Alabi, the acting imam of Linwood, told The Associated Press he believed the death toll would have been far higher at the mosque without Mr. Aziz’s actions.
Mr. Aziz said he saw the attacker drop one of his guns and managed to grab it but when he pulled the trigger, the gun was empty. When the gunman went to his car, presumably to grab more ammunition, Mr. Aziz said he threw the gun at the assailant’s windshield, shattering the glass. The assailant sped away.
Mr. Aziz remained humble, saying in an interview with The New York Times that anyone in his position would have done the same. “I was prepared to give my life to save another life,” he said.
Originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, Mr. Aziz lived in Australia for 27 years after having fled the violence of his home country. He moved to New Zealand a few years ago, describing it as a beautiful country.
New details about the victims, some of whom were children
New Zealand’s police commissioner, Mike Bush, provided new details of the attack on Friday night, saying that 41 people had been killed at Al Noor mosque, in the center of the city, and seven at Linwood mosque, about three miles away. Another victim died at Christchurch Hospital, he said.
David Meates, the chief executive of the Canterbury District Health Board, said that 48 people, including young children, were being treated for injuries at the hospital. Mr. Bush said on Saturday morning that two of them were in critical condition.
The police said on Friday that three men and one woman had been taken into custody, but Mr. Bush lowered the total number to three on Saturday morning, indicating that someone had been released.
Handcuffed suspect appears in court
In a Christchurch courtroom that was closed to the public for security reasons, police officers in bulletproof vests brought in Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who has been charged with one count of murder in connection with the massacre. The police said he would face additional charges.
Mr. Tarrant, 28, short with thinning brown hair, handcuffed and wearing white prison clothing, looked around the courtroom but said nothing as District Court Judge Paul Kellar ordered him held for a further hearing on April 5.
Regional officials have said that Mr. Tarrant is an Australian citizen. Court papers listed his New Zealand address as Dunedin City, which is about 280 miles south of Christchurch.
Richard Peters, his court-appointed lawyer, said Mr. Tarrant had indicated he might represent himself. Asked how Mr. Tarrant had reacted to what he is facing, Mr. Peters said, “He seemed to be quite aware of where he is and what he’s doing.”
At the same time the charging document for Mr. Tarrant was handed out to reporters, a second court filing was distributed that said Daniel John Burrough, 18, of Christchurch, had been charged with “intent to excite hostility or ill-will.” Court officials would not elaborate on how the two cases were related, if at all.
In addition to Mr. Tarrant, three other people were arrested in connection with the attacks, although one was apparently released. Few details have been offered about them.
Manifesto was sent to prime minister, among others
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was among dozens of lawmakers and media who were emailed a white nationalist manifesto purportedly from the gunman minutes before the shootings began on Friday, her office said.
Andrew Campbell, a spokesman for Ms. Ardern, said a generic email address for the prime minister was among about 70 to which the email was sent. The “vast majority” of the recipients were news outlets, and others were lawmakers, he said on Saturday.
Mr. Campbell said he believed the document was the same one that has been circulating online since the attacks. He said action was taken “almost immediately” according to protocol, “by sending it to parliamentary security, who then would pass it on the police.” He did not specify whether the email had been seen or forwarded before the shooting began.
Ardern: ‘Our gun laws will change’
On Saturday, Ms. Ardern said that the suspect held a gun license in New Zealand and that, according to what she had been told, he “was able to legally acquire the guns that he held.”
He had five firearms, including two semiautomatic weapons, she said.
“That will give you an indication of why we need to change our gun laws,” she said at a news conference. “Our gun laws will change — now is the time.”
But Ms. Ardern did not offer specifics about how the laws might change, saying only that her cabinet would discuss the issue. Attorney General David Parker, who had appeared to tell a crowd that New Zealand would ban semiautomatic weapons, told Radio New Zealand that regulation of the guns was “one of the issues” to be considered.
“Those decisions have yet to be taken but the prime minister has signaled that we are going to look at that issue,” he said.
While New Zealand’s laws governing the purchase of semiautomatic firearms are more restrictive than those in the United States, the country is much freer with firearms than Australia is, allowing most guns to be purchased without requiring them to be tracked.
“New Zealand is almost alone with the United States in not registering 96 percent of its firearms — and those are its most common firearms, the ones most used in crimes,” said Philip Alpers of GunPolicy.org, a clearinghouse for gun law data worldwide. “There are huge gaps in New Zealand law, even if some of its laws are strong.”
Many of the people killed in the attacks were the breadwinners in their families, Ms. Ardern said after meeting with victims’ relatives on Saturday.
The victims were “predominantly from the ages of 20 to 60ish — and a large number of men,” Ms. Ardern told reporters at Hagley College, a school near the hospital where family members were gathering.
Ms. Ardern said a government compensation system would help families left without income. In the meantime, mosques will continue to receive police protection, she said.
Seventeen minutes of horror, live on Facebook
A 17-minute video that was streamed live on Facebook shows part of the attack.
The clip, which appeared to have been taken from a helmet camera worn by the gunman, begins behind the wheel of a car. A man, whose face can occasionally be seen in the rearview mirror, drives through the streets of Christchurch before pulling up in front of Al Noor mosque, beside the sprawling Hagley Park.
[Read more about the suspect, who seems to have been performing for, and inspired by, social media.]
He approaches the mosque on foot, his weapon visible, and begins shooting at people at the entrance. What follows is nearly two harrowing minutes of his firing on worshipers.
At one point, the gunman exits the mosque and fires in both directions down the sidewalk before returning to his car for another gun — which, like the others, was inscribed with numbers, symbols or messages. When he re-enters the mosque, he shoots several bodies at close range.
After another few minutes, he returns to his vehicle and drives away.
“There wasn’t even time to aim, there was so many targets,” he says at one point, as the sirens of an emergency response vehicle blare in the background.
A range of nationalities among the dead and injured
Families are mourning loved ones, and the city of Christchurch is preparing to bury its dead. As news trickles out about the victims of the massacre, their nationalities are beginning to emerge.
Though officials have not released the names of those killed, a list of the missing has been published online by the New Zealand Red Cross. It includes people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
At least three people from Bangladesh were killed, and another two from Jordan, according to local news reports. Five people from Pakistan are missing, and several others were injured, officials in Pakistan confirmed. Other foreign ministries around the world said their citizens were caught up in the attack, including three people from Turkey.
Trump condemns attack, says white nationalists are ‘small group of people’
President Trump, who was mentioned as a source of inspiration in the manifesto believed to have been posted by the gunman, rejected suggestions that white nationalism is a rising menace.
“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” he told reporters in Washington in response to a question. “If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. But it’s certainly a terrible thing.”
Milo Yiannopoulos banned from Australia for remarks about attack
The Australian government has banned the conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from entering Australia for a planned tour this year, officials said on Saturday, citing his comments about the Christchurch attack.
Authorities in Australia were urged to ban the far-right commentator following his remarks about the massacre, in which he described Islam as a “barbaric” and “alien” religious culture.
“Mr. Yiannopoulos’s comments on social media regarding the Christchurch terror attack are appalling and foment hatred and division,” David Coleman, Australia’s minister for immigration, citizenship and multicultural affairs, said in a statement on Saturday.
The decision came after Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, denounced remarks made by a senator, Fraser Anning, who said on Friday that the “real cause” of the bloodshed was Muslim immigration. On Saturday, a teenager hit Mr. Anning with an egg in Melbourne, according to news reports.