The suspect who is accused of shooting and killing 49 people at a New Zealand mosque apparently livestreamed the incident, according to reports.
The suspect, Brenton Tarrant, apparently broadcast the carnage live on social media, CNN reported.
“Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online. We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed,” wrote New Zealand police on Twitter.
Meanwhile, tech companies such as Facebook were working to take down the video, Fox News reported. A spokeswoman for Facebook New Zealand, Mia Garlick, said that such videos were quickly taken down.
“New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we removed both the shooter’s Facebook account and the video. We’re also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware,” she told CNN.
YouTube also issued a statement about the matter.
“Shocking, violent and graphic content has no place on our platforms, and is removed as soon as we become aware of it,” read the statement from the Google-owned video sharing company. “As with any major tragedy, we will work cooperatively with the authorities.”
And Twitter said it removed an account that was said to be linked to the suspect.
“We are deeply saddened by the shootings in Christchurch today,” Twitter said in a statement to CNN. “Twitter has rigorous processes and a dedicated team in place for managing exigent and emergency situations such as this. We also cooperate with law enforcement to facilitate their investigations as required.”
Donald Trump Jr., the son of the president, called on people not to spread the ideology of the New Zealand shooter.
— Rosie memos (@almostjingo) March 15, 2019
“Don’t give the POS NZ shooter what he wants,” Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter. “Don’t speak his name don’t show the footage. Seems that most agree on that. The questions is can the media do what’s right and pass up the ratings they’ll get by doing the opposite? I fear we all know the answer unfortunately.”
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Tarrant was a personal trainer in Grafton, New Zealand. Gym manager Tracey Gray said he was “a very dedicated personal trainer … He worked in our program that offered free training to kids in the community, and he was very passionate about that.”
“I think something must have changed in him during the years he spent travelling overseas,” she added.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the events in Christchurch represented “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” and that many of the victims could be migrants or refugees, according to The Associated Press.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said.
The deadliest attack occurred at the Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1:45 p.m., when 41 people were killed.
Witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.
“I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said. “I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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