March 14 (UPI) — New Zealand police said it is dealing with “a very serious and tragic series of events” involving an active shooter.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a recorded statement on Facebook that there have been multiple fatalities and one suspect is in custody but they are unsure if there are others.
Fatalities occurred at two mosques in Christchurch and police are unsure if there are other locations, he said.
“I want to assure everyone that we have mobilized every police resource in the Canterbury region to respond to this and we are also in the process of mobilizing every national police resource to keep people safe,” he said.
Bush asked Christchurch residents to stay indoors and all of New Zealand to stay away from mosques.
“I want to ask anyone who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand not to go, to close your doors until you hear from us again,” he said.
All schools in Christchurch are under lockdown. There is no timeframe for when it will be lifted and the children are being cared for by the schools.
“This is a very grave and serious situation,” Bush said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today was “one of New Zealand’s darkest.”
In a news conference, she said the shooting was an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence that has no place in New Zealand.
“Many of those who would have been directly affected by the shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here, she said. “They have chosen to make New Zealand their home and it is their home. They are us. The person who perpetrated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand.”
She said her thoughts and all of those of the people of New Zealand were with the victims and their families.
Air New Zealand said that it was offering flexibility to anyone booked to travel to Christchurch today.
“The airline will waive any change fees and difference in fare should a customer need to make changes to travel booked for today,” the carrier said in a statement.
A cricket match scheduled for Saturday in Christchurch between the Black Caps, New Zealand’s national cricket team, and the Bangladesh national team has been postponed, the Black Caps said on Twitter.
Players from the Bangladesh team were filmed escaping through a park near one of the mosques where the shooting took place.
Tamin Iqbal Khan, a Bangladeshi cricket player, tweeted that the team was safe.
“Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers,” he said in the tweet.