New Zealand police say the man alleged to have gunned down 50 people in two Christchurch mosques was on his way to another target when he was detained.
“We strongly believe we stopped him on the way to a further attack,” Commissioner Mike Bush said at a press conference on Wednesday. “So lives were saved by our staff” who were “courageous in their intervention,” he said.
The shooter walked into a packed central city mosque on Friday and opened fire, killing more than 40 people. He then drove across the city to another mosque and continued the rampage. He was arrested as he fled that scene, with police running him off the road and dragging him from his car.
The two officers who made the arrest have been hailed as heroes, given the shooter was still armed and home-made bombs were found in the car.
Bush said the police response times throughout the attack were “fantastic.”
Armed officers were on the scene less than six minutes after police were first notified, and the offender was arrested within 21 minutes, he said.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, appeared in court at the weekend charged with one count of murder and is likely to face further charges.
Bush said police knew where the gunman was heading, but declined to comment further as the accused has been charged and a prosecution process is underway.