Eyewitness gives heartbreaking account of New Zealand shooting
'I heard and saw what I thought were firecrackers'
49 lives were taken in a shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday afternoon local time. Gunmen opened fire at two mosques in the capital city in what is being described as a terrorist attack.
An eyewitness account posted by the BBC details the harrowing events, with one woman saying she 'heard what she thought were firecrackers', before 'all of a sudden it got quite violent'.
"I heard and saw what I thought were firecrackers and I saw young fellas running down the street," she says.
"The all of a sudden it got quite violent and I thought 'no that's not firecrackers' and they started falling. One fell to the left of my car and one to the right.
"For a few minutes I stopped the car in shock. And I leaned left across the seats to avoid getting shot. Apparently a bullet went sailing over my car and struck the one at the back."
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) March 15, 2019
New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern has labelled the shooting a terrorist attack. She also condemned the perpetrators, claiming they chose to attack New Zealand because it is a country of tolerance and multiculturalism.
“We New Zealanders were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone this racism, or because we are an enclave of extremism, we were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things,” she said.
“I want to send a message to those directly affected...For many this may have not been the place they were born. For many New Zealand was their choice, a place they actively came to and committed themselves to...it was a place where many came to for their safety. A place where it was safe to practice their culture and religion," she added.