Friday, March 15, 50 people were killed and another 50 were injured in a shooting at two different mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. According to Joey Garrison from USA Today, this attack will go down in history as the nation’s deadliest massacre.
The suspected shooter of these two mosques has been identified as 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant. Tarrant is a white male from Grafton, Australia, a town located in the New South Wales region of Australia.
According to a report posted by ABC, Tarrant worked at a gym in his hometown from 2009 to 2011 before he left to begin travelling in Asia and Europe. In 2010, right before he left to travel, Tarrant’s father, Rodney Tarrant, died of cancer. Some reports link his father’s death to the beginning of Tarrant’s radicalized views.
In an interview with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Garrison reported that Morrison labeled Tarrant as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.” Right before his first attack, Tarrant posted an anti-immigrant manifesto of over 70 pages on his Twitter account. This manifesto was titled “The Great Replacement” and consists of a long essay about the white genocide and the “atmosphere of fear” created by Muslims, according to Tarrant.
Written in the manifesto, Tarrant also claimed to be an ethno-nationalist and a fascist, an ideological standpoint causing him to focus on the superiority of ethnicity and the nation over singular individuals. Additionally, he claimed to have had the attack planned for two years, but that New Zealand wasn’t his targeted location until about three months ago.
Tarrant videotaped Friday’s tragic event with a helmet camera, capturing 17 minutes of the deadly incident. According to reports, the police also found explosive devices in Tarrant’s vehicle that had to be defused.
This event has caused a ripple of fear in mosques around the world; many are worried that this tragedy will launch a string of copycat shootings. However, it has also led to an outpour of warmth and support for the victims of these shootings from individuals around the globe. With numerous candlelight vigils held for the victims and comments of love from individuals all over social media, this event has received a lot of attention internationally.
In fact, students at Texas Woman’s University have expressed great empathy for the people affected by the New Zealand shooting.
When asked how the news of the shooting made her feel, Natalia Bagnasco, a TWU sophomore majoring in Deaf Education, said she felt, “heartbroken for the people that passed and their loved ones, for the parents that lost children and the children that lost their parents.”
News of the event also made her feel “heartbroken that the shooter felt so broken himself that he thought resorting to taking the lives of others was the only solution,” said Bagnasco.
In light of the attack, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has released a statement saying that there will be some reform to the country’s gun laws. In fact, as of April 1, New Zealand lawmakers have already passed a new bill that bans the types of weapons that Tarrant used at the two mosques in March.