New Zealand mosque attack suspect charged with murder, appears in court

The suspect in two mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 49 people dead and 42 injured, appeared in court and was charged with murder.

The suspect has been identified as 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant. It is the same name used in a live broadcast of the shootings that was posted to social media.

Tarrant showed no emotion in court on Saturday morning, local time, as the judge read him one murder charge.

The judge said “it was reasonable to assume” more charges would also be laid, which New Zealand police confirmed on Twitter, saying details will be “communicated at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Tarrant has been remanded without plea until his next appearance in the High Court on April 5.

Two other armed suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the attack.

Tarrant is an Australian national who was not on any watch lists in New Zealand or Australia, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday local time, and didn’t have criminal records there.

“This individual has travelled around the world with sporadic periods of times spent in New Zealand,” Ardern said during news conference in Wellington early Saturday morning local time. “This individual was not on the radar of Australian intelligence agencies or New Zealand agencies.

Ardern said the suspect obtained his gun license in November 2017 and began to purchase weapons in December 2017.

Five guns were used by the shooter, which included two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns, and a lever action firearm was also found, Ardern said.

Tarrant has proclaimed himself a white nationalist and released a 74-page manifesto on social media that contained conspiracy theories about “white genocide” and references a conflict between people of European descent and Muslims.

He describes himself as “working-class, low-income family” and had a “regular childhood.”

New Zealand police said on Twitter there is a heightened police presence around the country, including at mosques and community events. The district court in Christchurch had strict security as well.

They also said work is continuing on Saturday to “build a complete picture of the tragic events in Christchurch yesterday.”

-With files from Andrew Russell, the Associated Press and Reuters

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