New Zealand Latest
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
In New Zealand, another day of mourning, resolve and questions after the mass shooting in two mosques that left at least 49 dead and dozens more wounded in the city of Christchurch. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has met with families of those killed and wounded and with others in the Muslim community. She said she brought two messages - one of love, support and shared grief. The second was the assurance of safety to worship. Meanwhile, the suspected shooter appeared in court, where he was charged with murder. He is a 28-year-old Australian and self-professed white supremacist. Marc Greenhill joins us now from Christchurch. He's with New Zealand's largest news website, Stuff. Thank you so much for joining us today.
MARC GREENHILL: No problem, Melissa.
BLOCK: And can you describe what you have been seeing and hearing around the city today?
GREENHILL: Yeah, today is obviously day two of after the shooting. It's really been a weird feeling around the city today. One of mourning, obviously, as we come to terms with what was possibly the most shocking gun crime that this country has ever seen. Just reeling from this brutality, really, and what we always thought was a very safe country.
BLOCK: And it sounds like there's been a great outpouring of support for the Muslim community.
GREENHILL: Yeah, people were out in droves showing their support for the community. Floral tributes around the city, people bringing food to victims' families and those in hospital. It's really been a great thing to see the community rally around this tragedy.
BLOCK: Marc, what are you learning about some of those who were killed in this tragedy?
GREENHILL: At this stage, it seems like the youngest that we've had so far was age 3, which is really shocking, also a teenage boy. The oldest at this stage that we've heard is a 71-year-old. Also, some stories just about how they died which are quite upsetting as well. One person died essentially shielding other worshippers from gunfire. Another man at the second mosque died trying to disarm the gunman. So acts of heroism there, as well as, obviously, selflessness.
BLOCK: And I gather among the victims here, we will learn that a number of them were refugees.
GREENHILL: Yeah, that's probably one of the saddest parts about this whole incident - that many of those who were worshipping probably were refugees from war-torn parts of the country escaping persecution. And for them to come to what they thought was a safe country and end up facing a shocking incident like this is really sad to hear.
BLOCK: And the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has vowed that there will be changes. Let's take a listen.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRIME MINISTER JACINDA ARDERN: I can tell you one thing right now. Our gun laws will change.
BLOCK: Marc, when she talks about gun laws changing, what specifically do you think she means?
GREENHILL: Well, at the moment, the weapon that we believe was used in the shooting was a semi-automatic rifle, which can be legally carried in New Zealand. What appears to be not legal was a modification that was made to the magazine that allowed it to fire rapidly and cause the carnage that it did. Another issue we, have, as well is that individuals can hold a gun license, but the individual weapons that they hold do not need to be registered. So, essentially, we have no knowledge of how many guns or the type of weapons that are in New Zealand at the moment.
BLOCK: There were others who were arrested in connection with these shootings. What has happened to them? Is it assumed that he is the sole gunman in both of these attacks in both mosques?
GREENHILL: It's still unclear what role the other two people who have been arrested played. But in terms of the actual shooting, police are fairly confident that only one person was the perpetrator of that crime.
BLOCK: That's Marc Greenhill. He's news director with New Zealand's largest news website, Stuff. He joined us via Skype. Marc, thank you very much.
GREENHILL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.