New Zealand’s prime minister says the “primary perpetrator” in Friday’s mosque shootings was a licensed gun owner and legally acquired the five guns used in the shootings.
The Australian suspect will appear in court on Saturday morning after being arrested and charged with murder.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Saturday the country’s national gun laws will change after at least 49 worshippers were shot dead in the two mosques in Christchurch. She did not specify how the laws will be changed.
Ardern said the Australian suspect was not on any watch lists and did not have a criminal record. He was living in Dunedin, a seaside city south of Christchurch, has traveled around the world and spent sporadic periods in New Zealand.
Police say homes around a “location of interest” in Dunedin have been evacuated as a precaution. Two improvised explosive devises were found in a suspect’s car.
The attacks happened during midday prayers. Most if not all of the victims were gunned down by an immigrant-hating white supremacist who apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the slaughter on Facebook.
Two other armed suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand, a country so peaceful that police officers rarely carry guns.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said earlier on Friday, noting that many of the victims could be migrants or refugees.
She pronounced it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”