The alleged shooter in the massacre of 49 people in two mosques in New Zealand sent a copy of his rambling, anti-immigrant manifesto to the country’s prime minister and 69 others only minutes before he opened fire, the New Zealand Herald reports.
The newspaper says New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office confirms receiving the 74-page screed in which the suspected gunman attempted to explain his actions. It had been sent to the prime minister’s generic email address, and not her personal address, according to the the spokesman.
“The mail was setting his reasons for doing it,” a spokesman for Ardern told the newspaper. “He didn’t say this is what I am about to do. There was no opportunity to stop it.”
It was quickly turned over to parliamentary security he said, according to the newspaper.
The Herald reports that other politicians on the gunman’s mailing list included National leader Simon Bridges and Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard. Some recipients lived abroad, the newspaper reported.
The alleged gunman, 28, appeared in court under tight security Saturday. Shackled and wearing all-white prison garb, he showed no emotion when the judge read him one murder charge.
At one point, he did appear to make a hand gesture — forming an ‘OK’ sign sometimes associated with white nationalists.
The judge said “it was reasonable to assume” more such charges would follow. He was ordered to return to court April 5.
The Australian is accused of opening fire on worshippers during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch. He apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the killings.
Ardern, speaking to reporters, said 39 survivors remained hospitalized Saturday with 11 critically wounded. But updates have been slow in coming, as anxious families await news of their missing loved ones.
Across the country, New Zealanders reached out to Muslims in their communities and around the country the day after the mass shootings. New Zealanders everywhere volunteered acts of kindness. Some offered rides to the grocery store or volunteered to walk with their Muslim neighbors if they felt unsafe.
In other online forums, people discussed Muslim food restrictions as they prepared to drop off meals for those affected.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed the gunman was involved in both shootings but stopped short of saying he was the sole shooter.
Ardern said he was a licensed gun owner who bought the five guns used in the crimes legally.
“I can tell you one thing right now, our gun laws will change,” Ardern said.
The attack, which occurred as people were attending Friday prayers, was the deadliest in the nation’s history since 1990, when David Gray killed 13 people before being shot and killed by police in the town of Aramoana.
The prime minister also said she had spoken to President Donald Trump who offered his condolences and asked what the U.S. could do.
“He asked what offer of support the United States could provide,” Ardern said at a news conference afterward. “My message was: ‘Sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.'”
Before their phone conversation,Trump had responded to a question from reporters by saying he did not view white nationalism as a threat, adding: “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess. If you look 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.”
Adern, when asked by reporters later if she agreed with his assessment, responded: “No.”
In his lengthy manifesto, the gunman said he was first pushed toward violence while touring Europe in 2017 after an Uzbek man drove a truck into a crowd of people in Stockholm, killing five people, including an 11-year-old Swedish girl.
He said his desire for violence grew when he arrived in France, where he became enraged by the sight of immigrants in the cities and towns he visited.
He said New Zealand, far from Europe, was not the “original choice for attack,” but described it as “target rich of an environment as anywhere else in the West.”
The dossier, which was described by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a “work of hate,” hailed Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”
He said he was carrying out the attacks, “to directly reduce immigration rates to European lands by intimidating and physically removing the invaders themselves.”
By choosing Christchurch, he wrote, he would show that no place on earth was safe and that even a country as far away as New Zealand is subject to mass immigration. He said he settled on his target three months ago.
Contributing: Mike James, Jane Onyanga-Omara; The Associated Press
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