A 28-year-old Australian man identified as Brenton Harrison Tarrant was charged with murder after 49 people were killed in shootings at two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch on Friday, The Guardian reported.
Tarrant did not request bail and was remanded in custody till his next court appearance on April 5. According to ABC News, Tarrant smiled as he appeared before the court in Christchurch.
Tarrant is accused murdering a man, whose identity was not revealed. “There is one charge of murder brought at the moment, it is reasonable to assume that there will be others,” said Judge Paul Kellar.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush had earlier said that Tarrant had been charged with one count of murder, with other charges to follow.
Tarrant had live-streamed a video of himself opening fire at one of the two mosques on social media, according to AFP. A spokesperson for Facebook New Zealand had earlier said that the video was taken down.
Tarrant, who is an Australian citizen, lived in Dunedin city, which is about 360 km from Christchurch.
He was one of three people arrested in connection with the shootings on Friday. The two others are in custody, while a fourth person who was taken into custody was later determined to be an armed bystander.
The first shooting took place at the Al Noor mosque, and a second at the Linwood Masjid. As many as 41 people died at the first mosque, and seven at the other. One person died in hospital, while 48 people were injured.
At least nine persons of Indian nationality or origin have been listed missing after the shootings.
Prime minister promises to change gun laws
The attack sent shockwaves through New Zealand, prompting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to promise to change gun laws. Ardern said Tarrant obtained a “Category A” gun licence in November 2017 and began purchasing the five weapons used in Friday’s attacks in the Christchurch the following month.
“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 am committing to that,” the prime minister added. “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.”
Trump dismisses concerns on white nationalism
United States President Donald Trump expressed solidarity with New Zealand but dismissed concerns on rising white nationalism in the wake of the Christchurch attack, AFP reported.
Trump said: “I don’t really. 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.”
Tarrant had reportedly posted a manifesto online in which he identified himself as a white man, born in Australia, and listed the white nationalists who have inspired him, according to CNN.