Christchurch, Mar 18 (AP/UNB)— Australian police have raided two homes in New South Wales state as part of the investigation into the New Zealand mosque shootings.
Australian Brenton Tarrant has been charged with murder over the shootings in Christchurch on Friday.
Police said in a statement the raids occurred in the towns of Sandy Beach and Lawrence early on Monday.
The statement says: "The primary aim of the activity is to formally obtain material that may assist New Zealand Police in their ongoing investigation."
Tarrant grew up to the north of the raided towns in the New South Wales town of Grafton.
The owner of Christchurch's "Gun City" store said it sold four guns and ammunition to the alleged mosque shooter through a "police-verified online mail order process."
David Tipple said in a statement that he has provided police with the purchase records and full details of the sales, which did not include military style semi-automatic weapons.
Tipple said he and staff are "dismayed and disgusted" by Friday's shootings.
The store has been criticized for leaving out a roadside advertising billboard that shows a parent helping children with rifle target practice.
Referring to the man arrested after the shootings at two mosques, Tipple said, "We detected nothing extraordinary about this (gun) license holder."
An Australian man has been charged with murder in the attacks at two Christchurch mosques.
Families of the 50 people killed in the Christchurch mosque shootings are enduring an increasingly agonizing wait for the bodies of victims to be released as New Zealand reels from the unprecedented tragedy.
Three days after Friday's attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history, relatives were anxiously waiting for word on when they can bury their loved ones. Islamic tradition calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death.
Aya Al-Umari, whose older brother Hussien Al-Umari died at the Al Noor mosque, said "It's very unsettling not knowing what's going on, if you just let me know — is he still in the mosque? Is he in a fridge? Where is he?"
Authorities say they hope to release all the bodies by Wednesday.
Christchurch, Mar 18 (AP/UNB)— Three students from Cashmere High School were at the Al Noor Mosque for Friday prayers when a gunman started shooting. When classes resume Monday, none will be there.
Two of the students are presumed dead, and the third is in the hospital with gunshot wounds suffered during New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history.
The father of Sayyad Milne, 14, told the New Zealand Herald that his son was last seen lying on the bloody floor of the mosque bleeding from his lower body.
"I've lost my little boy. He's just turned 14. I'll get it together again," he told the newspaper.
"I remember him as my baby who I nearly lost when he was born. Such a struggle he's had throughout all his life. He's been unfairly treated but he's risen above that and he's very brave. A brave little soldier. It's so hard ... to see him just gunned down by someone who didn't care about anyone or anything," Milne said. "I know where he is. I know he's at peace."
Current students weren't the only ones caught in Friday's shootings, in which a gunman killed 50 people and wounded dozens. A former Cashmere High School student is also believed to have been killed, as was the father of another student.
Outside the school on Sunday, students came in a trickle to lean bouquets of flowers up against a construction barricade, evidence of the ongoing rebuilding from Christchurch's 2011 earthquake.
Principal Mark Wilson said counselors and trauma specialists will be on hand when classes resume at the diverse school of more than 2,000.
"I'm very confident in our staff; I'm very confident in our school community. It's made up of awesome people," Wilson said. "It's still going to be hard. There's going to be a lot of grief. There's going to be a lot of sadness. I think we've also got to be very patient with each other."
Wilson declined to talk about the boys thought to have been killed, but confirmed three students were at the mosque on Friday and said one remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds to the leg.
The principal noted that schools can often be a safe place for children coping with trauma. He is also encouraging students to take up their own acts of love to counteract the tragedy.
"It can be quite easy to get overwhelmed with all of the hate and the trauma of this situation and what's really important is that love will triumph in this situation," Wilson said. "It's often in the small things that you can do in terms of visiting people, making a cup of tea for somebody, having a smile, giving some support and some love."
Students Finn Barclay and Oki Tillia, both 17, spent the weekend doing baking and collecting toys to take to workers and victims of the attacks. They are also organizing a student vigil Monday afternoon outside one of the two mosques where the shootings occurred.
"We're all going to have candles and we're just going to light one up and we're just going to pass it on, just pass on the love, the light that all these Cantabrians carry," Tillia said, using the name for people from Canterbury province, where Christchurch is located.
Sayyad's half-sister, Brydie Henry, remembered him as a good-natured, kind teenager who adored football. His mother, Noraini, was also in the mosque and managed to escape, Henry told the Stuff news website.
His parents and two siblings, 15-year-old twins Shuayb and Cahaya, are all "at home just waiting," she said.
"They're just waiting and they don't know what to do," she said.
Christchurch, Mar 18 (AP/UNB) — A Christchurch gun shop on Monday acknowledged selling guns online to the 28-year-old white supremacist accused of killing 50 people in mosque shootings that have upturned New Zealand's reputation as among the world's most tolerant and safe nations.
At a news conference, Gun City owner David Tipple said the store sold four guns and ammunition to Brenton Harrison Tarrant through a "police-verified online mail order process."
He said none of the weapons were military style semi-automatic weapons. Calling for gun laws to be tightened, New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said the attacker used five guns, two of them semi-automatic, which were purchased with an ordinary gun license and modified.
It was not clear if any of the firearms Tarrant purchased from Gun City were used in Friday's shootings.
"We detected nothing extraordinary about this license holder," Tipple said, referring to the shooter. Tipple said he and staff are "dismayed and disgusted" by Friday's shootings.
His store has been criticized for leaving out a roadside advertising billboard that shows a parent helping children with rifle target practice in the wake of the shootings.
Three days after the attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history, relatives were anxiously waiting for word on when they can bury their loved ones. Islamic tradition calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours.
Aya Al-Umari, whose older brother Hussien Al-Umari died at the Al Noor mosque, wept as she talked about a kind man, a quintessential big brother who delighted in teasing his little sister.
On Monday, the family was still waiting for the release of Hussein's body. They have tried to be patient, and understand that police have a job to do, but they are growing weary of the lack of information.
"It's very unsettling not knowing what's going on, if you just let me know — is he still in the mosque? Is he in a fridge? Where is he?" Aya said. "I understand the police need to do their job because it's a crime scene, but you need to communicate with the families."
Members of the Muslim community and police were Monday morning at a cemetery which has been fenced off and obscured with white netting. Backhoes had stopped digging and police officers said they were setting up a media area inside the cemetery.
Ardern has said authorities hoped to release all the bodies by Wednesday, and Police Commissioner Mike Bush said authorities were working with pathologists and coroners to complete the task as soon as they could.
Tarrant, an Australian citizen who lived in New Zealand, appeared in court on Saturday amid strict security, shackled and wearing all-white prison garb.
He showed no emotion when the judge read one murder charge and said more charges would likely follow. The New Zealand Herald reported Monday that he had dismissed his appointed lawyer and plans to defend himself.
Tarrant had posted a muddled, 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto online before the attacks and apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the slaughter.
Facebook said it removed 1.5 million videos of the shootings during the first 24 hours after the massacre. The revelation in a tweet provided a chilling snapshot of how quickly provocative and often disturbing images circulate on the internet.
Thousands of people struggling to make sense of the tragedy have paid tribute to the victims at makeshift memorials in Christchurch, a leafy city of 400,000 people known for its English heritage and the river that meanders through it.
Hundreds of flowers were piled up amid candles, balloons and notes of grief and love outside the Al Noor mosque and the city's botanic gardens.
"We are a nation who will never accept acts like this!!!," said a poster-sized message decorated with hearts attached to the iron fence of the botanic gardens. "We stand with the Muslim community. We will always fight for the safety of our community. We will always stand as one."
Some people sang tributes and others prayed as camera crews from around the world filmed the moving scenes.
"We are supposed to be a safe place to go about your business and regardless of what your faith is no one should've had to go through what we went through on Friday," said city resident Russell Falcome-Price.
Toronto, Mar 18 (AP/UNB) — A fire at Toronto Pearson International Airport has caused officials to cancel all U.S.-bound flights from Terminal 1.
The blaze broke out in the terminal Sunday evening and the area was evacuated. The airport announced in a tweet that all flights to the U.S. scheduled to depart from Terminal 1 had been cancelled.
The fire was extinguished a short time later. Peel regional paramedics say one woman was taken to a hospital in stable condition. Another was treated at the scene.
Crews are working to clean up damage from smoke and water.
There is no word yet on what caused the fire.
Christchurch, Mar 17 (AP/UNB)— The attributes that helped Jacinda Ardern rise to become New Zealand's leader at age 37 include her optimistic outlook and bright personality. And she became an inspiration to working women around the world last year when she gave birth to a daughter, Neve.
But the prime minister is now displaying other qualities to an anxious nation after a terrorist on Friday slaughtered 50 people at two Christchurch mosques. She's shown a determination to change gun laws and a deep empathy with the families of the victims and the Muslim community.
On Friday afternoon at a simple table laid in a hotel conference room in New Plymouth, a city on New Zealand's North Island, Ardern told the nation about the shootings. Details were sparse, but her shaken demeanor, a tremor in her voice, made it clear the situation was grave.
Mass shootings were almost unheard of in New Zealand. People wanted reassurance and information.
When she next spoke from Parliament in Wellington she was calmer, more resolute. She gave details of a mounting death toll and of an offender in custody, an Australian man who had chosen New Zealand for his crime.
"You may have chosen us," she said. "We utterly reject and condemn you."
When President Donald Trump called Ardern to offer his sympathies and ask what assistance the U.S. might provide, Ardern said she would welcome sympathy and love toward Muslim communities. It was a rebuke, of sorts, toward the perception of Trump as being anti-Islamic.
On Friday, Ardern flew to Christchurch. She donned a simple hijab and met with families of those killed and wounded.
At a refugee center, she told Muslim leaders that the country was united in its grief.
"This is not New Zealand," she said. "The only part of the incident and actions that we have seen over the past 24, 36 hours that is New Zealand is the support that you are seeing now."
Ardern did not avoid the thorny political issues arising from the shooting, the question of how the gunman obtained five firearms, including two military-style weapons. New Zealand's liberal gun laws allow easier access to those weapons than in Australia.
"I can tell you right now our gun laws will change," she said.
She demanded her intelligence agencies explain why they knew nothing about the terrorist, who emailed a manifesto outlining his plans to Ardern's office minutes before the shooting.
She promised immediate financial assistance to survivors, including families who had lost their only breadwinner or who faced the cost of funerals.
Friday's events where the first major test Ardern has faced since she became prime minister in a contentious general election in 2017. She had only become leader of the liberal Labour Party a few weeks earlier when the party had slumped to its lowest-ever poll rating.
She immediately boosted its popularity, attracting a new constituency to Labour through her youth and optimism. It disguised a tough and experienced political operative.
When Ardern was elected prime minister she had already been a lawmaker for nine years, starting as New Zealand's youngest sitting member of Parliament. She had previously been a researcher for New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and a policy adviser to Tony Blair, the British prime minister at the time.
She is progressive but pragmatic, willing to woo big business and shelve difficult liberal issues that might alienate a larger constituency.
Until Friday, her toughest task had been to hold together the brittle and disparate political coalition between her Labour Party and two other parties, the Greens and New Zealand First.
Since taking office, Ardern has become an international celebrity and a counterpoint to the rise of populist leaders. But her popularity abroad has masked domestic difficulties. There were political missteps, minor scandals, dissent with coalition partners.
In the week before the Christchurch shooting, Ardern's major political challenges had been dealing with the fallout from a proposal to introduce a capital gains tax and complaints of a conflict-of-interest affecting one of her ministers.
On the day of the shooting she was to address schoolchildren participating in a global classroom strike and protest against inaction on climate change. Ardern is a fierce advocate for combating global warming and it was an event at which she'd usually be in her element.
But on Friday, the trajectory of her leadership irrevocably changed.