Witnesses say many dead, injured in shooting at New Zealand mosque
Witnesses say several people have been killed and injured in a shooting at a mosque in the center of Christchurch, New Zealand.
New Zeland police tweeted that officers responded to a "serious ongoing firearms incident" at approximately 1:40 p.m. Friday (8:40 p.m. Thursday ET). They said schools in the city had been placed on lockdown and urged people to stay indoors.
There was no official word on casualties, but witnesses said the Masjid Al Noor mosque was full for Friday afternoon prayers and said many people were dead.
New Zealand Police
In response to a serious ongoing firearms incident in Christchurch all Christchurch schools have been placed into lockdown. Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay off the streets and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.
7:40 AM - Mar 15, 2019
Twitter Ads info and privacy
502 people are talking about this
Witness Len Peneha told The Associated Press he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror. Peneha added that he also saw the gunman flee before emergency services arrived.
Peneha said he went into the mosque to try and help, but "I saw dead people everywhere."
The Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Google Earth)
Zayd Blissett, chairman of the Muslim Association of Marlborough told Stuff.co.NZ that he received a text the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) saying "50 shot" at the mosque.
"I'm just heartbroken," he said. "In fact, I'm sitting here crying. This is New Zealand. This can't happen here."
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
A third witness, Mohammed Nazir, told TVNZ he saw three women shot and bleeding outside the mosque. He told police that he called the police climbed a wall to escape, leaving his shoes behind in the process.
A witness who declined to give his name told Stuff the gunman was wearing a helmet and fired more than 50 shots.
"He had a big gun and a lot of bullets and he came through and started shooting like everyone in the mosque, like everywhere, and they have to smash the door and the glass from the window and from the small door to try and get out," he said.
Christchurch, located on New Zealand's South Island, is the third-largest city in the country with a population of just over 400,000. It was affected by a devastating earthquake in February 2011, which killed 185 people and triggered the collapse of thousands of buildings across the city.
This is a developing story, check back for more updates.