A day after the deadly mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, the alleged shooter was presented in court on Saturday, March 16, morning. Australian-born Brenton Harrison Tarrant did not seek a name suppression during his court appearance and is said to have shown no signs of remorse.
Instead, the accused smirked at media persons present and swayed while the charges were read out. The 28-year-old Dunedin resident, flanked by two policemen, appeared in white prison clothes, shackled and barefeet, and remained silent throughout.
He has been charged with murder and sent to custody without plea until April 5, when he will be produced before the high court for a hearing, reported NZ Herald.
During the hearing, Judge Paul Kellar in the Christchurch District Court said it was “reasonable to assume” that the man would face further murder charges. While he allowed media persons to take photographs and film the proceedings, he ordered that Tarrant’s face be pixelated as his identity might be a part of the court case.
Forty-nine people were killed and at least 40 others sustained serious injuries when a gunman opened fire during afternoon prayers at two mosques on Friday, March 15. The New Zealand Police Commissioner confirmed the death toll and said that four people — three men and one woman — had been taken into custody. It was later notified that one of the detained was later let go.
Speaking of Tarrant, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern said that he had obtained a “Category A” gun licence in November 2017, and had started buying weapons — two semi-automatic rifles, two shotguns and a lever-action weapon — in December 2018.
The mere fact… that this individual had acquired a gun licence and acquired weapons of that range, then obviously I think people will be seeking change, and I’m committing to that,” the Agence France-Presse quoted Ardern as saying.
While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun licence, and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now — our gun laws will change.
She also confirmed that Tarrant and the other two detainees weren’t on the terror watchlist in New Zealand or Australia. “The individual charged with murder had not come to the attention of the intelligence community, nor the police, for extremism,” she added.
“I have asked our agencies this morning to work swiftly on assessing whether there was any activity on social media or otherwise, that should have triggered a response. That work is already underway.”
It was earlier said that a social media post surfaced just before the attack and is believed to have been written by one of the shooters. The post contained a link to an 87-page manifesto that spoke of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations, reported CNN. In tune, Ardern said that officials are also investigating a “far-right extremism” angle.