Brenton Tarrant, a white nationalist Australian terrorist who livestreamed his massacre of dozens of people at a Christchurch mosque, scrawled the names of other mass shooters on the weapon and left behind a disturbing manifesto in which he ranted about “white genocide” and “invaders.”
The carnage – which unfolded at two New Zealand mosques – has horrified the world and caused New Zealand to temporarily ask all mosques to close their doors. The country’s prime minister called it one of New Zealand’s “darkest days.” One of the massacres was captured in the disturbing Facebook livestream, which shows the gunman murdering helpless people as they huddled in corners and lay wounded on sidewalks and hallways.
At least 50 people were killed in the terror attacks, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference. Another 20 people were critically injured. One of the first victims to be identified is Daoud Nabi; his son told NBC News that his dad heroically died while trying to shield another person. You can read a tribute to him here. Another victim – the first to see the gunman – greeted Tarrant with the phrase, “hello brother.” That moment of grace – a welcome in the face of a gun – has become a rallying point for greater unity and harmony among all.
And yet another hero: Naeem Rashid, who “tried overpowering the shooter” but lost his life in the process. His son, Talha, also died.
Three people have been detained, including Tarrant, but very little information has been released about the other people or what role they might have played. Tarrant was charged with murder and flashed a white power hand sign during his first court appearance.
Most of the victims were murdered at the Masjid Al Noor mosque, but at least seven more perished at a second mosque called Linwood Masjid, which was about 3.5 miles away. There, several people tried to stop the gunman. You can see a roundup of tributes to all of the victims here as their names are released.
In the video streamed on Brenton Tarrant’s now-deleted Facebook page, you see the gunman – described by the Australian prime minister as an Australian citizen and “extremist, right-wing terrorist” – in his car with multiple rifles at his side. He appears to be wearing military gear. You can hear the GPS giving him directions to the mosque in the chilling video.
He is wearing gloves with the fingers cut out and plays music – at one point a song called “Remove Kebab” about ethnic cleansing – during the ride. He also plays the 18th century marching song “British Grenadiers.” He then walks into the mosque and coldly and randomly begins to gun people down. He goes to his car and gets another weapon at one point and goes back into the mosque. He walks over to a pile of people in a corner of the room and shoots yet again at close range as they huddle together. It’s horrific beyond words. “There wasn’t even time to aim. There were so many targets,” he says casually in the video at one point.
“Help me,” pleads a woman the gunman shoots on the sidewalk outside when he finally leaves the Masjid Al Noor mosque after an agonizing six minutes or so of shooting without interruption or any sign of law enforcement. He walks up to the fallen woman, ignores her pleas, and shoots her in head. He gets back in his car and drives off, casually holding the rifle as he drives. The chilling video also shows him gunning down a man crawling to get away as music pumps through the video. Witnesses told horrific stories; one man escaped the mosque to find his wife dead on the walkway. A 4-year-old boy is among the wounded.
The shooter fired at least 205 times from four rifles and used multiple magazines, stopping to reload. A person who appeared to be the same gunman also posted a link to the live video in a chat thread called 8chan, which is described by The New York Times as “an online forum known for extremist right-wing discussion.” The user wrote, “Well lads, it’s time to stop sh*tposting and time to make a real life effort post. I will carry out and attack against the invaders, and will even live stream the attack via facebook.”
Various contributors to the extremely disturbing chat thread then cheered the writer on, with some posting Nazi symbols. “Best of luck Brenton Tarrant,” wrote one. “Brenton Tarrant is a f*cking hero” wrote another, as they watched it unfold live, sharing screenshots.
“Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online. We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed,” New Zealand police wrote on Twitter. They later confirmed Brenton Tarrant’s name, and it was visible on the Facebook page that streamed the video before it was deleted. It’s also the name of his Twitter page.
The first mass shooting broke out at the Al Noor Mosque mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand during afternoon prayers on March 15, 2019, with eyewitnesses describing a heavily armed, military-jacket clad gunman who opened fire, leaving blood everywhere. That mosque is located near Christchurch’s Hagley Park. Brenton Tarrant’s name circulated quickly on social media after a copy of the extremely disturbing video circulated on YouTube and other online sites. Heavy has viewed the extremely troubling video but has opted not to run it or any screenshots showing bodies, although you can see other screenshots throughout this article.
“It’s very disturbing, it shouldn’t be in the public domain,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush said of the video. He also said, “Let’s not assume the danger is gone.”
Brenton Tarrant also filled his now-suspended Twitter page with anti-Muslim and immigration sentiments and weaponry. The gunman’s lengthy manifesto laments declining birthrates among Europeans and “mass immigration” and declares it “white genocide.” In the manifesto, he stated that he had planned the attack for two years and chose Christchurch three months before.
In it, he says he received the blessing from a group called the “reborn Knights Templar” (after the Christian soldiers during the Crusades) and indicates he was inspired by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who also wrote a manifesto that talked about a reborn Knights Templar, although prosecutors thought Breivik made it up to inspire others. You can read more about Breivik and the so-called reborn Knights Templar here.
“It is a terrorist attack,” he wrote. “…There was a racial component to the attack.”
He wrote that he chose firearms for the attack because he believed it would mobilize the “left wing” in the United States to “abolish the second amendment,” which would in turn upset the “right wing” and fracture the U.S. “along cultural and racial lines.” The ramblings mention Donald Trump (whom he has mixed feelings on), Michael Jackson, pundit Candace Owens, and others. He was inspired by Charleston shooter Dylann Roof and far-right Norwegian killer Anders Breivik. Tarrant wrote that he was seeking revenge for Ebba Akerland, an 11-year-old Swedish girl killed in a terrorist attack in 2017.
“We must crush immigration and deport those invaders already living on our soil,” he wrote. “It is not just a matter of our prosperity, but the very survival of our people.”
Tarrant labeled himself an “eco-fascist,” and added, “No group ordered my attack. I made the decision myself. Though I did contact the reborn Knights Templar for a blessing in support of the attack, which was given.”
At the beginning of the video, he says, “subscribe to PewDiePie.” (YouTuber PewDiePie has responded, “Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch. I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person. My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.”) The end of the manifesto proclaims, “Europa arises.”
Here’s what you need to know
1. Brenton Tarrant, a Former Fitness Trainer, Describes Himself as “Just a Ordinary White Man” Who “Decided to Take a Stand”
The Brenton Tarrant manifesto contains a bizarre question-and-answer section that reads like an interview. In question after question, he seeks to explain his ideals, motivations, and grievances. Who is he?
“Just a ordinary white man, 28 years old,” the manifesto explains. “Born in Australia to a working class, low income family. My parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock. I had a regular childhood, without any great issues. I had little interest in education during my schooling, barely achieving a passing grade.” He claimed he invested in “bitconnect,” used the money to travel, and added, “I am just a regular white man, from a regular family. Who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people.”
According to The Australian, he was the son of a ” triathlon-competing father and an English-teacher mother.” Grafton residents who knew them told the Australian that Tarrant came from a “beautiful family.” Authorities say he was not on terrorist watch lists.
He grew up in Grafton, Australia, where he was known for his interest in fitness. He “ran free athletic programs for children,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Tarrant’s father, Rodney, “died from some kind of asbestos-related illness when Tarrant was finishing high school,” ABC reported. The site reported that it’s believed Tarrant has a living sister and mother. His father died at age 49 of cancer in 2010, ABC reported. Brenton Tarrant inherited money when his dad died, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, and he used the money to travel the world. On those travels, the manifesto says, he became radicalized by mass immigration and what he saw as the decline of European culture.
He also traveled to Pakistan, according to a Facebook post in his name.
Rodney Tarrant’s obituary describes him as “the sixth of nine children to John and Joyce Tarrant, of Great Marlow” and calls him “a dedicated family man, father of Lauren and Brenton, and a competitive athlete.” He married Sharon Fitzgerald in 1984, according to the obit. Rodney worked “on the local garbage run” and was described as having “a very friendly, gentle nature,” according to the obit.
A woman who knew him in Grafton has told the Sydney Morning Herald she didn’t see any sign of firearm obsession. She didn’t recognize the mass shooter he became.
The terrorist’s actions were ruthless to the extreme.
The extremely disturbing Facebook live video, in the name of Brenton Tarrant, shows the man walking toward the mosque through a gate and then up to the front door. You see him aim the gun at the door and start shooting. He walks past a dead body and screams erupt. He shoots several people in a hall and then walks into a larger communal area and shoots other people. Bodies lay crumpled on the ground. A man runs past at one point and he reloads. It’s impossible to describe how disturbing the graphic video is. “We’re not going to get the badge today boys,” he says at one point. He plays music with the line: “I am the god of Hellfire, and I bring you fire.” He shoots out his car window at one point as he drives around.
You can see writing on his rifle as he walks around shooting people randomly. He then walks into the area and shoots at bodies already lying on the ground. Back in the car, he says at one point, “did not go as planned … f*cking Christ.” It’s not clear what he meant. He also labels what happened a “firefight,” even though he was the only person with a gun.
According to RNZ, a New Zealand radio outlet, an eyewitness reported seeing people “lying on the ground,” and commented: “there was blood everywhere.”
2. Explosives Were Found, the Attack Was ‘Well-Planned’ & Tarrant’s Manifesto Advocates for ‘Green Nationalism’ & Violence
The prime minister said Tarrant had received a Category A gun license in November 2017 and “under that, he was able to acquire the guns that he held.” She said the weapons used in the attack were “two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever-action firearm.”
Authorities haven’t said much about the other people in custody or the role they allegedly may have played. However, the police commissioner did say of the other three suspects: “We believe one of those persons, who was armed, who was at the scene, may have had nothing to do with this incident.”
“The two other people that have been apprehended, again in possession of firearms in the general environment, we are working through to understand what their involvement is,” he added.
The video does not show any attacker but Tarrant. “From what we know, [the attack] does appear to have been well planned,” the prime minister of New Zealand said.
“Two explosive devices attached to suspect vehicles have now been found and they have been disarmed. There are currently four individuals that have been apprehended, but three connected to this attack are currently in custody, one of which has publicly stated that they were Australian-born,” she added.
“These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand,and in fact have no place in the world. While we do not have any reason to believe at this stage that there are any other suspect, we are not assuming that at this stage. The joint intelligence group has been deployed and police are putting all of their resources into the situation. The Defence Force are currently transporting additional police staff to the region,” said the PM, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
News Zealand police wrote, “Police are currently in attendance at a property on Somerville Street, Dunedin. This is a location of interest in relation to the serious firearms incident in Christchurch today. Evacuations of properties in the immediate area have taken place as a precaution.”
Police released a series of urgent tweets as the shooting news broke.
“In response to a serious ongoing firearms incident in Christchurch all Christchurch schools have been placed into lockdown,” New Zealand police wrote on Twitter. “Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay off the streets and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.” Police also wrote, “Police are currently responding to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch at around 1:40 p.m. Armed police have been deployed.”
Police also wrote that the situation was not contained: “A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter. Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.”
It didn’t take long for Tarrant’s name – and writings – to emerge online. The manifesto is basically a lengthy rant of supposed racial grievance.
“It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates. If there is one thing I want you to remember from these writings, its that the birthrates must change,” he writes. “Even if we were to deport all Non-Europeans from our lands tomorrow, the European people would still be spiraling into decay and eventual death.”
The manifesto also rants about “mass immigration” in juxtaposition to European birthrates. He calls it a “crisis of mass immigration and sub-replacement fertility” and calls that “an assault on the European people.” In another spot, the manifesto rants about killing prominent politicians: “KILL ANGELA MERKEL, KILL ERDOGAN, KILL SADIQ KHAN.”
In the manifesto, Tarrant wrote that he supported Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Breivik and racist Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, among others, and added, “I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.” He said he had read Roof’s writings.
The Brenton Tarrant Twitter page posted numerous links to the same manifesto document. Heavy is choosing not to publish the entire document, but here is a section to give you a sense of the shooter’s mindset.
A few moments later, the Twitter page was suspended. However, Heavy has reviewed and saved much of its contents. The cover picture of a Twitter page in the name Brenton Tarrant shows a body lying on the ground with a doll next to it. Weapons contained names of mass shooters.
Asked why he is resorting to violence, he explained, “There is no nation in the world that wasn’t founded by, or maintained by, the use of force. Force is power. History is the history of power. Violence is power and violence is the reality of history. Wake up.”
He said that “Australian (sic) is a European colony, particularly of British stock and thereby an extension of Europe.” He said he blamed immigrants and capitalists and added, “I blame both, and plan to deal with both.”
As to why he attacked Muslims, he wrote, “They are the most despised group of invaders in the West, attacking them receives the greatest level of support.” He ranted about climate change, saying that by killing “the invaders” he could “kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.”
Part of his manifesto contains a passage headlined “to conservatives.”
“Conservatism is dead. Thank God. Now let us bury it and move on to something of worth,” he wrote. Another section was headlined “to Christians.” He wrote, “Let our lives be stronger than death to fight against the enemies of the Christian people.”
Another passage was headlined “to Antifa/Marxists/Communists.” He explained, “I do not want to convert you…I want you in my sights. I want your neck under my boot.”
The manifesto refers to Turks as “roaches” and orders them to “flee to your own lands, while you still have the chance.” He claimed that European men “are to blame. Weak men have created this situation and strong men are needed to fix it.”
He trashes “suicidal, nihilistic and degenerate pop icons produced from a dead culture,” mentioning Michael Jackson, Madonna, Kurt Cobain, and Freddie Mercury.
He advocates something called “green nationalism.” He urges people to kill “high profile enemies,” saying that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, “the mother of all things anti-white and anti-germanic, is top of the list.”
Tarrant asked himself “were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump?” The manifesto gives this answer: “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.”
He said he supported Brexit “though not for an official policy made.” He researched and developed his beliefs through the Internet.
Of Owens, he said, “Yes, the person that has influenced me above all was Candace Owens. Each time she spoke I was stunned by her insights and her own views helped push me further and further into the belief of violence over meekness. Though I will have to disavow some of her beliefs, the extreme actions she calls for are too much, even for my tastes.”
Owens responded: “LOL! 😂 FACT: I’ve never created any content espousing my views on the 2nd Amendment or Islam. The Left pretending I inspired a mosque massacre in…New Zealand because I believe black America can do it without government hand outs is the reachiest reach of all reaches!! LOL!”
Tarrant also wrote that “Spyro the dragon 3 taught me ethno-nationalism. Fortnite trained me to be a killer and to floss on the corpses of my enemies.”
3. The Twitter Account in Brenton Tarrant’s Name Discusses Previous Terrorist Attacks & Says ‘God Bless the Fallen’
On Twitter, the now-deleted Brenton Tarrant page posted about Muslims, birthrates, white genocide, and terrorist attacks, echoing the themes of the manifesto. The Twitter page was only recently created, with posts starting in March 2019.
“How many of these attacks are quickly forgotten?” Tarrant wrote on Twitter on March 12, 2019 shortly after sharing a news story on an attack by an immigrant against a girl in Sweden. “God bless the fallen,” he wrote.
Here are some of his posts. He also posted about white women having lower fertility rates and shared stories on extremists in the German military and the “global Muslim population.”
Many of his posts were retweets of news stories negative toward immigrants and Muslims.
He shared a video that references Charlottesville.
Stuff reported that the gunman scrawled the names of other attackers on his rifle, including Alexandre Bissonette and Luca Traini. Bissonnette killed six people in a Quebec mosque. Traini targeted North African migrants in Italy. The writings on Twitter also mention Sebastiano Venier, who was a 1500s era commander in a Christian battle that defeated the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto. Indeed, weapons posted on Twitter contain such names.
4. The Gunman Was Wearing a Helmet & Military Style Jacket, Reports Say & Witnesses Gave Harrowing Accounts
Sam Clarke, a reporter with TVNZ, told Al Jazeera that the gunman had a machine gun.
“A gunman – dressed in black with a helmet carrying a machine gun – came into the back of the mosque and started firing into the people praying there,” said Clarke, according to Al Jazeera. He described “many people had been hit, some as young as 16.”
He told the news site that about 10-15 people were seen outside the mosque with “some alive, some dead.” Another witness recounted to BBC the frightening moments as the terrorist targeted people over and over again.
“What I did was basically waiting and praying, God please, let this guy run out of bullets,” he said to BBC.
Witnesses told RadioNZ that the shooter entered during afternoon prayers and was wearing “a helmet and glasses and a military style jacket.” Another witness told Stuff the gunman used up two magazines and described that there were “bodies all over me.”
News Now reported that another witness described seeing three women “shot and bleeding on the ground outside the mosque.” He escaped by leaping over a wall, the site reported.
“New Zealand, like Australia, is home to people from all faiths, cultures and backgrounds. There is absolutely no place in either of our countries for the hatred and intolerance that has bred this extremist, terrorist violence and we condemn it,” the Australian Prime Minister said, according to CNN.
5. Women at the Second Mosque Rose Up Against the Shooter, Reports Say
Muhammad Nazir, a witness, told Stuff that he heard people yelling “help” and believed the gunman was positioned outside the mosque while firing inside it.
At the Linwood Moque, one witness told The Guardian that women inside it tried to rise up against the gunman. He described how “women around him rose up and screamed at the gunmen: ‘Do not come here,’ some of them charging towards the shooter,” Guardian reported.
“The shooter was screaming a lot and waving the gun in every direction, shooting, shooting, shooting,” he said to the British news site. “I don’t know who of my friends is dead or alive now. I am waiting.”
At the Linwood mosque, a young male worshipper tackled the gunman and took his weapon, but couldn’t figure out how to use it.
The BBC reported that police were describing the shooting as a “critical incident.”
Another witness told ABC.net.au, “I heard a big sound of the gun. And a second one, I ran. Lots of people were sitting on the floor. I ran behind the mosque.”
The Bangladesh cricket team was at the mosque during the shooting but escaped unharmed.
Another witness reported hearing about 20 shots being fired, the site reported. The New Zealand site Stuff reported that the shooter was a man armed with an automatic rifle.
New Zealand’s prime minister directed some of her words toward the suspects. “You may have chosen us but we utterly reject and condemn you,” she said.