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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
New Zealand Police Respond To Active Shooting; Witnessed: Gunman Shot From Back Of Mosque; New Zealand Police: One Person In Custody; Police: People Should Not To Go To Mosques; Police: "Multiple Fatalities" In New Zealand Shooting; "Multiple Fatalities" In New Zealand Mass Shooting. Aired: 11p-12a ET
Aired March 14, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, ANCHOR, CNN: Following the breaking news out of Christchurch, New Zealand. I'm George Howell.
NATALIE ALLEN, ANCHOR, CNN: Hello, everyone. I'm Natalie Allen. Thank you for being with us.
HOWELL: Again, the breaking news we're following this happened just over an hour ago. At this point, police say they are responding to an active shooting situation in central Christchurch. The details are still coming into our newsroom but the news agency TV or New Zealand Network TVNZ. They report and witnesses have spoken with, they say the incident took place at a mosque.
ALLEN: Right now what we're hearing is Police are still asking people to avoid the central Christchurch area. Also, schools in the city are on lockdown. It's about 4PM there in Christchurch, New Zealand and you can see from the video here of the city of about 375,000. Also people on stretchers being brought to hospital by ambulance.
HOWELL: Police have not confirmed any fatalities at this point. I want to repeat that, police have not confirmed fatalities. But armed units are deployed throughout central Christchurch. This all took place again around 1:40 PM local time. That's over an hour ago now. Witnesses tell TVNZ they saw multiple people wounded. Others running for their lives when the shots first rang out.
Natalie, just last hour we heard from a person who was in a mosque. He said that there were some 200 people in that mosque when the shots rang out and people did their best to hide. He was able to escape but this is certainly a situation that is playing out.
ALLEN: Right and gun laws are very strict there in New Zealand, so this, of course, something that people there are not used to as no one should be able to and in this situation probably not figuring out initially what was going on.
HOWELL: I want to draw our viewers attention to the video you're seeing there. That video was taken in just moments ago, a short time ago here to CNN, the latest seems that we're seeing there in Christchurch, you get a sense that there's a lot happening on the streets. You see the people there on the sidewalk watching on. People have been told to stay indoors, people have been told to stay out of the way as this police activity continues.
A short time ago, again, we spoke with a witness, he was inside the mosque when all of this happened. I want you to hear the chilling details that he shared about what happened.
MOHAN IBN IBRAHIM, WITNESSED TO MOSQUE SHOOTING: I was actually praying inside the mosque like I was inside of the mosque and it was a big mosque and what happened like around 1:40 to 1:45 there was like gun firing sound. It was coming from the backside, because I was quite inside, so what happened is like there's a barricade in the middle. So if somebody get in touch by using the main door, they have to come inside and they have to walk like maybe one minute.
So what happened is like there was another door, two-door on the left side and the right side. So when I heard that there's a shootout, the sound is coming and I thought possible, I thought maybe it's an electronic short circuits or something like that. And then it was like continuously happening so on the - on the right side, people were just coming out of the mosque by using that door on the right side door and we were just running towards the backside.
And a barricade was there, a wall. We have to jump out of the wall and still we were like hearing the sound of the gun. It was continuously shooting for maybe 10 to 15 minutes. And later on we use the backside and then came out on the street. And since then the police - we call to the police and went to live and when I came to the street I saw that one person got shot on his chest and ambulance came and the police came here. Doctor was taking care of him.
So that's the time I went to live on Facebook to explain actually what's happening. And one more sad thing is like it's not only happened to this mosque. There's a two-mosque in the area into two suburb. So one in Riccarton, Deans Avenue, and I call to my other friends who went to pray to the other mosque and we asked them that same thing happened here as well and they told me like five people died out there in that mosque.
And I have seen on my naked eye, which is three people died on the door like on the street and I couldn't contact two of my friends who are inside the mosque as well.
That's what I saw.
HOWELL: Mohan Ibrahim ...
IBRAHIM: And later on there are lots of police and ambulance came and they allow us to go inside the mosque. I mean to get close to it.
HOWELL: Mohan Ibrahim is on the phone with us sharing a story of survival. Mohan, you were able to escape this and Mohan I just want to make sure that I understand, you say that this went on for some 15 minutes, is that correct?
IBRAHIM: It would be minimum of 10 minutes. HOWELL: Oh, gosh, and you were able to get out and escape. You say
that you saw people who certainly were ...
IBRAHIM: Yes, I couldn't see them. I couldn't see them because - so later on like I heard like there was a multiple shooter and those gun sound was so loud. And when I came to the street from the mosque maybe you could say 700 to 800 millimeter, I still heard the sound.
HOWELL: And he talked about what he saw when he escaped. He talked about seeing at least - the very least someone injured on the streets and that's the thing. We're not able to confirm the number of fatalities if there were at this point. Still unclear what the situation is with the alleged gunman that are out there.
ALLEN: Right. We want to reiterate that even though he reported seeing several people who he says may have died. We have not got any news on that at all. No word on the shooter or there were shooters or what kind of weapon or weapons were used. We understand that no one has been apprehended when this broke out, a couple of hours ago. The Canterbury police, I'm reading off their Twitter feed here, they recorded this, "We have a critical incident in Deans Avenue Christchurch. Please avoid the area. We will get more in the near future."
Another side note to this, while this broke out at this mosque and there may be a second mosque involved, that's not yet confirmed. There was also a rally taking place, thousands of children holding a rally on climate change at Cathedral Square. No information on that whether anything happened there, but that was something that was going on at this time.
HOWELL: And we also learned from a reporter that share this was the Bangladesh cricket team in town, so a lot was happening in the city at that time in the early afternoon. Again, this happens some two, three hours earlier from where we are right now but certainly an evolving situation. I want to go over a couple of details that we also learned from Chris Lynch.
Chris was with Newstalk ZB Radio and Chris shared some things that we're looking to confirm here at CNN. But again Natalie pointed this out certainly one mosque that is the scene of an apparent attack, Chris tells us that there may be another mosque that may have been attacked.
We're looking into that here at CNN, have not confirmed. Also, looking into the report from Chris Lynch that there may have been an active shooting situation at a hospital outside Christchurch, Christchurch Hospital. These are things our newsroom is looking into, but not confirmed. But certainly it goes to show you there are multiple scenes that are in the focus of this situation right now. And from the video you see here, a lot happening there on the ground.
ALLEN: So let's go to CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Josh Campbell. He is joining us from Washington, D.C. He's been listening to our coverage. Josh, this happening just a couple of hours ago. There's so much we don't know. So what are police concentrating on right now as best you can tell us?
JOSH CAMPBELL, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, CNN: That's right. So authorities are very much in the threat mitigation phase. We've seen the footage of authorities responding. Obviously, reports coming in that there may be possible - maybe more than one location that they're going to have to cover now.
Now, anytime this happens you have this state of chaos where witnesses are providing information, you have people that were inside the location that are telling you and talking to authorities. All of that is critical information, because the first thing authorities want to know is, is threat mitigated, have they stopped the threat, is this one person that was acting alone, are there multiple people. And again in talking with people that were actually inside, you're able to get that full picture.
Now, if this does turn out to be multiple locations, obviously, we're now in another phase. If this turns out to be more than one person, that's an entirely different story. You now have a conspiracy and you have authorities that are now having to fan out in even more than one location.
ALLEN: Josh, I want to interrupt you just for a moment because we just got word that one person is in custody, so that is certainly something positive in this. But yet again we don't know how many people might have been involved in this.
CAMPBELL: Yes, absolutely. That's good news to hear. And again what authorities will do and we've seen a number of these incidents around the world, they're not going to send out that all clear to officers around the city until they're certain that this is the person that not only conducted the attack, but this person did it alone.
Now, if this person is taken into custody and he's able to be interviewed and police get that sense of at least confidence in conducting that interview that this is a lone gunman, then we'll see that all clear come out.
And you'll see the resources around the city again start to calm down from that really high state of alert. If they don't have that sense of confidence, we're going to continue to see the state of lockdown because the last thing that authorities want are innocent people out there if there's a potential threat that's still on the street. We have seen incidents in the past where a subject has been taken what they call into custody and apprehended, but may not be alive. There may have been some type of a shootout where the person either wanted to die him or herself or there was just an exchange of gunfire.
Again, we just don't know that. But that is a critical piece of information, if they're able to glean from that person what actually took place and they believe that that's the full extent, then we'll be in another phase where - possibly, then we'll move into that investigative phase to determine why this person did what he or she did. HOWELL: Josh, we're getting some information. According to police
they're urging Muslims to avoid mosques for the rest of the evening.
CAMPBELL: Right. And that's one thing that authorities will also do is look at a potential target and determine what are the characteristics of a potential target that may also be in place in other locations. We've seen that here in the United States, for example, whenever something happens at a location, we'll see officers go to similar location whether that's news media agencies, whether that's houses of worship, that's something we see here. It's something we see around the around the world. And it's very much for precautionary purposes.
Again, if this is something that was targeted because it was a mosque, perhaps this was a religious reason. Again, we don't know the motive. It's too soon to speculate, but authorities aren't going to take any chances. They're going to send assets to these other locations ...
HOWELL: Josh, we're going to have to interrupt you and my apologies for doing it. We have the Prime Minister of New Zealand speaking now. Let's listen in live.
JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: Presently, the police do have one suspect in custody. However, there could be others involved. Also, there are multiple things involved in this incident as well and police will be giving more details as they can as the situation unfolds.
Whilst I cannot give any confirmation at this stage around fatalities and casualties. What I can say is that it is clear that this is one of New Zealand's darkest days. Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence. Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here.
They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.
For now, my thoughts, and I'm sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those who have been affected, and also with their families. My thoughts also to those in Christchurch, who are still dealing with an unfolding situation. The advice from police continues to be that people remain indoors.
I acknowledge that may mean that some families are separated, but please continue to listen out for information as it comes to light that's been directly provided by the New Zealand Police with further information. But as I say, please remain in lockdown. We are potentially still dealing with an evolving situation. And, again, as I say, across multiple sites.
Please be assured, though, the police are actively managing the situation. Christchurch Hospital is dedicated to treating those who are arriving at the hospital as we speak as well. As soon as I leave here, I will be returning directly on a flight to Wellington. Agencies are already convening in Wellington. I will be looking to meet with them as soon as I land.
It's my expectation that once I arrive and have been briefed, I intend to speak again publicly after that point. I'm happy to take questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can you tell us about how, when and where the events unfolded?
ARDERN: Look, it's only a matter of a few hours ago, of course, that I was advised of the situation and that it was an evolving situation. Again, public reporting took place not too long after events began unfolding. But as to the precise details, at this stage I'll wait until I have a bit more precision from a briefing directly from the police when I arrive in Wellington.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you have confirmed that it's not an isolated incident? There were multiple areas where this took place?
ARDERN: At the moment, the police, although they have stated that they have one offender in custody, they have advised that there may be other offenders. They are dealing with multiple scenes as well, so I can't confirm that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I acknowledge that you aren't in a position to confirm deaths or injuries, what can you tell us about that?
ARDERN: No, I'm not currently in a position to confirm the number of deaths or injuries. But I have to acknowledge, people can see images live from Christchurch. It will be obvious to them that this is a significant event and I can tell you now this is and will be one of New Zealand's darkest days.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we know about the offender, if anything? Is there any confirmation around age, ethnicity or even nationality?
ARDERN: I'm not in a position to give those details at this stage. Police, as I say, have apprehended someone. They are in custody as we speak. But I'm simply not in a position to give details around that individual, that suspect, at hand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible)?
ARDERN: Again, I'm not in a position to give any further detail about the individual that's currently in police's custody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a potential for other suspects still out there?
ARDERN: At this stage, the police are continuing to advise those who are in the area to remain indoors. They have said that they could be dealing with other offenders. That's why they, of course, are taking the approach of ensuring people's safety. And so until people hear otherwise, I ask that they listen to the advice they have been given directly by the New Zealand Police.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The nature of the crime, would you describe it as a hate crime?
ARDERN: I would describe it as an unprecedented act of violence, an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you able to expand on why, any reason, as to why it may have occurred? Is there any indication around that?
ARDERN: Well, certainly, it has occurred in a place where people should have been expressing their religious freedom. Where they should have been in a safe environment and they have not been today. There is no place in New Zealand for such extreme acts of unprecedented violence. The people who were the subject of this attack today, New Zealand is their home. They should be safe here.
The person who has perpetuated this violent act against them, they have no place in New Zealand society. Any other questions? I'm quite keen to get to Wellington now, so if you'll excuse me. I'm very happy to update you again once I've met with agencies upon my landing. Thank you.
ALLEN: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, we heard her repeat over and over again, she doesn't know all of the details. She just kept saying this is one of the darkest days in New Zealand's history. Yes, one person is in custody. There could be other people involved. She couldn't confirm that, but now police are confirming that there have been multiple fatalities in this shooting. Something so rare there in New Zealand where they have very strict gun laws.
People are still told to be very careful. We're also expecting a news briefing properly in about 45 minutes to bring us more information.
HOWELL: Let's take a look there at the map, Deans Avenue, if we could bring that back up. Again, this is in central Christchurch. Just to look at that map of this community of some 300,000, perhaps 400,000 people. It is a small town. This is happening around 1:40 in the afternoon local time there. A lot of people were out at about one of the mosques there on Deans Avenue.
We understand from a person who escaped telling us that there were some 200 people inside the mosque at the time praying when the shots rang out. Again, from the Prime Minister, she's saying she can't give any updates at this point on possible casualties but dealing with multiple injuries for sure. As Natalie just mentioned, one person in custody.
Police telling people that there may be multiple offenders. So again the possibility of active scenes, it is still certainly in play. And police urging people to stay indoors. Natalie, one thing that's important to pass along from police, police urging Muslims to avoid mosques for the rest of the evening.
ALLEN: And we also know that the Bangladesh cricket team was at that mosque. They escaped unharmed. We don't have any more information on who may have been hurt or killed in this situation. As George's pointed out, this just happened about three hours ago there in Christchurch, New Zealand.
And this is a country with very strict gun control laws. This is highly unusual. Firearms are not familiar to people. Let's talk more about that with Josh Campbell, our analyst who's with us. Josh, just because of that fact that firearms - it's such a tight country when it comes to rules, what does that mean that people could be dealing with in this situation and police as well?
CAMPBELL: So for investigators, it's actually going to make their job a little bit easier when it comes to tracking the firearms when you compare a country like New Zealand where you don't have citizens that are well armed, for example, as they are in the United States.
Police officers will be able to track a weapon based on a serial number, based on where it was purchased in order to again to determine the origination. What is interesting here in this case and we've talked about it earlier before we actually got confirmation that someone was taken into custody is that that person is now an intelligence gold mine, potentially for investigators if this person is willing to explain exactly what took place.
Now, again, investigators want to know not only why the person did what he did, that will come later. They want to know whether the person acted alone. Is this someone that was part of some group or is this person just had some type of grievance or wants to go in and take loss of life.
The reason that's important is because although they have one person in custody, there may be potential other people out there who may be involved. The next question will be, this will be part of the investigative phase, is are there other people out there who may have known what this person was intending to do, even if they weren't actually involved in the actual plot itself, that will be part of the investigation.
The last thing I'll say is, obviously, we're seeing the images play out of the response by police officers on the ground. One thing that's taking place behind the scenes and I can tell you having to serve in the FBI that New Zealand is part of this arrangement of countries they call the Five Eyes. These are five countries, it's New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States and Great Britain. These countries share information back and forth on critical threats on intelligence that's gathered around the world.
So you can bet that once this person is fully identified, that information will then be sent out to other partner international countries in order to determine did they have any information on this person? Is there anything derogatory out there that investigators maybe should have known or may again help them determine is this someone who was acting alone or are there other people out there. This is going to be a very lengthy investigation.
Obviously, a great sign that the person is taken into custody, they haven't sent out the all clear because they're not yet confident there aren't others involved as we've heard from the Prime Minister. But there's a lot going on right now behind the scenes and it will continue as investigators tried to determine exactly what happened today.
HOWELL: Josh, I just want to pass this along too, again, this is coming from the New Zealand Commissioner Mike Bush. Mike is saying that there are multiple fatalities at two mosques in Christchurch in Canterbury area. I believe that we have some type of an interview possibly. Let's listen to what's being said there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE BUSH, NEW ZEALAND COMMISSIONER: This afternoon we are dealing with a very serious and tragic series of events in the Christchurch, Canterbury area. They involve an active shooter and involve multiple fatalities. We have one person in custody but we are unsure if there are other people.
The multiple fatalities, as far as we know, at two locations, a mosque at Deans Avenue and another mosque at Linwood Avenue Christchurch. Again, we are unsure if there are any other locations outside that area that are under threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: So police reiterating that they have one person in custody. But Josh, he mentioned that there could have been a second mosque involved in this. So if police aren't sure whether they have everyone and that there could be other mosques, what could the situation or the scene or where could their work be focused as they go to these other locations?
CAMPBELL: Yeah, absolutely. And now that we're on the - talking about another potential location, we can suspect that the individual obviously conducted one attack and then possibly went to the other. What that gets into is a state of planning and knowing where these facilities are, where the locations are, in order to conduct one attack, and then go to another facility. That's something that person would have had to know in advance.
And the reason that's important now for investigators we talked about sending out assets and resources to other potential other houses of worship, for example, other potential targets, because again, until police officers aren't confident that they're only dealing with one person, they don't yet know if there are other facilities that might also be targeted.
Again, having two locations would suggest a level of premeditation, a level of planning and it's not beyond the realm of possibility that if he planned for two, there could be more than two. And again as a precaution, we'll see police officers really trying to harden those facilities now with resources in order to protect innocent people who may be inside.
HOWELL: Josh Campbell giving us some perspective on all this. Thank you again for your insight. And I just want to go over the information that we are able to confirm here on CNN. Again, we understand there are multiple fatalities in this situation, an active shooter that apparently has been taken into custody.
ALLEN: And we're just getting this in, I'm reading this off my computer there, George, the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, this is a quote that says, "We are heartbroken over the events in Christchurch today on the mass shooting at a mosque." Said in a tweet moments ago, "We're heartbroken over the events. We stand with our Kiwi friends and neighbors and our prayers are with you." So that just coming from Ambassador Brown there.
HOWELL: And we heard from the Prime Minister of New Zealand just a short time ago, the Prime Minister describing this as one of the New Zealand's darkest days.
Again, one person in custody. Police telling people to stay off the streets to stay indoors. Telling Muslims to avoid mosques for the rest of the evening. And they are dealing with at this hour multiple fatalities.
ALLEN: And the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who we just heard a moments ago, she was apparently in Nairobi, Kenya, and she kept saying, "I've got to go. I've got to get back to Wellington." And we weren't sure where she was but now we know she's in Kenya, so she is en route back to New Zealand to oversee this issue.
And as we've heard from her, she is a new Prime Minister, relatively new, saying that this is one of the darkest days in New Zealand's history. She was asked was this a hate crime, she said she didn't know. She didn't know who was behind it. But certainly this isn't something that people in New Zealand, thank goodness, are accustom to. Here in the United States we have an epidemic of shootings, that doesn't mean anyone gets used to it.
But this is a country, New Zealand, has very, very strict firearms laws and that if something like this happened, you can imagine what they're dealing with there and the fear, you had someone on earlier, didn't you? A reporter, I believe, that say he's ever been more fearful than right now.
HOWELL: And that's so critical here. You understand the fear, the anxiety, the uncertainty that people are feeling right now. Again, this is a country that doesn't really see these problems. But, again, this is playing out right now. We are going through all the details that we're able to confirm. But as we're doing that, I can't help but think of the families, the people who escaped, the families who are wondering, "Is my loved one OK?" All of that is happening. ALLEN: Right. And we want to point out that even though police have
said there have been multiple fatalities, no word, no names, of course, they're dealing with that right now, identifying who is the casualty here and trying to get in touch with loved ones, so that's where they're at. It's a very, very active situation in New Zealand and we're still in breaking news. We'll take a short break. We have more for you right after this.
Thank you, again, for being with us. Natalie Allen here with George Howell. The breaking news is out of New Zealand where police say there are multiple fatalities in an active shooting in central Christchurch. Here's what we know at this hour. This happened about three hours ago. It's just around 4:30 in the afternoon there in New Zealand. Police say one person is in custody. Although there could be others involved in this shooting. They don't know, but they could still be at large. They're also describing shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch.
HOWELL: Some other information to pass on, all schools there are on lockdown within the city. Police are also asking people to avoid the downtown area. This town of about 300,000, some 400,000 people and the video that we're seeing from the city shows ambulances rushing people on stretchers to the hospital. This video we took in just about an hour ago and you get a sense of what's happening there on the streets.
ALLEN: Some 375,000 people live in this city. So you can imagine how many are affected by this. We also know that arm units have been deployed throughout central Christchurch. Again, it all started at about 1:40 PM local time. Also there was a rally going on, children some 1,000 children had gathered to hold a rally on climate change. No word yet on how - if that was impacted at all.
Also, witnesses telling TVNZ, they saw multiple people wounded. Others running for their lives when the first shots rang out. Again, we don't have a number as far as the people injured or killed. Police just saying right now multiple fatalities and we should be hearing a briefing from the police in about half an hour and we'll, of course, bring that to you live.
HOWELL: We've been hearing from witnesses since we've been reporting this getting more accounts now. Let's listen to some of these accounts that are coming in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was around 1:45, I was at stop, but I heard sound of a gun and the second one - a guy shoot, I ran. There are also people who were sitting in the floor. The gun was around the door, I ran behind the mosque and I sitting behind the (inaudible) ring the police and the police take a long time to get them - I climbed the wall. The police was with me in the telephone and asked me a few time and I've given the report and tell to the police to came in here. The police come in. I saw one gun in the floor and the police was
stopping here. There was a lot of people die in there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: That from one eye witness and we also understand from police telling people, telling Muslim to avoid mosques for the rest of the evening.
ALLEN: Also, someone we talked with earlier said this happened at the biggest mosque in Christchurch and that typically it is a very peaceful place. We also know that the Bangladesh cricket team was there. They got out. They're all OK.
The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was in Nairobi, Kenya when the shooting happened. She's now on her way to Wellington. She spoke from Kenya just a short time ago about what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARDERN: ... happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence. Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here.
They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.
Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Let's now bring in CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Josh Campbell following a story in Washington, D.C. So Josh, again, we understand two mosques have been attacked here. We understand multiple casualties, one person in custody. Police are dealing with multiple injuries as well.
CAMPBELL: That's right and when we talk about multiple locations, again, that gets into that level of premeditation, that level planning which is much different than one person deciding to act on a grievance and to go to a location, again, without giving that thought. And for investigators that then makes their job that much harder because now again as we mentioned, there could be other facilities out there that might be targeted. We've seen them sending word out to officials or the public to shelter in place and now sending resources to some of these locations, again, just out of a precaution.
So that's the physical part of the investigation, that will continue. The next phase will be to again get into the mind of this person to identify the person that they haven't custody to determine whether this person acted alone or if there are other people that were involved. What we'll see hopefully soon from authorities is that update where they'll provide that information to the public because again unfortunately we've seen so many of these incidents. You have to put yourself in the mindset of a family member or a friend who knew someone that was at the location.
Right now they have so many questions, again, trying to determine is their loved one safe, that's something that investigators will have to quickly get out there and provide information. And, again, having worked so many of these incidents when I was inside the FBI as an FBI agent, this is that critical phase for victim family members. Again, just that state of not knowing what is going on, and at least for the reports hold true that we've seen some of these casualties that there will be people receiving heartbreaking news.
Obviously, we hope that the numbers don't continue to go up. But again this report is indicating that there possibly 200 plus people inside that location. Again, it's just a matter of time until we get those details. That's why it's so important right now for authorities to come out and provide information on what they know. And then the last thing I'll say is this part of the investigation.
Again, getting to the subject him or herself, did they act alone, are there other people out there that are possibly involved, that's going on right now, as investigators are presumably trying to interview that person, get that information, determinate if their cooperative. Sometimes we've seen incidents where people clam up, they don't want to say anything, they don't want to talk to police. We've seen other incidents where these depraved individuals are actually proud of what they've done and they'll actually tell investigators and tell the whole story.
Again, it's yet to be seen what it is we're dealing with this particular person. But, again, hopefully we'll get to that information as authorities come to the microphones.
HOWELL: Well, we did just hear a short time ago police are telling people that there may be other offenders, so that is certainly a possibility at this point.
CAMPBELL: That's right.
ALLEN: Also, Josh, I want to talk with you about places of worship. Depending on the country around this world, all kinds of levels of security, depending if they've been targets before. But typically places of worship are easy targets.
CAMPBELL: They are indeed. It's the soft target as you think about. Now, whether you go to any country around the world, you see government facilities, you obviously have robust security measures that are in place with fencing and gates and armed personnel outside. Usually you don't see that with houses of worship, particularly when there's not a threat.
Now, we don't hear about these types of incidents happening in places like New Zealand. We don't hear about these firearms incidents like we're hearing about today. And again what law enforcement officers will do is match a potential threat with the resources that they have. And if the threat isn't there, then you're not going to see that robust security posture that's in place.
And so for a potential offender that is a target that is soft where you're not going to have people that are obstructing a depraved gunman on the way inside. And so again that's just the state of the world that we're in when you have a person that is intent on killing people, there are locations out there that are ripe for conducting these types of attacks, which I can tell you investigators we talked to them all the time, we know that they're job - it's a very tough one to try to get a picture of what the current threat is in their environment.
The reason why this is important is because what we've seen in incidence is when authorities find someone that conduct an attack, one of the first questions that they're going to ask is, is this someone that was known to us. Law enforcement officers will be going back through their holdings. They'll be going back in New Zealand through their own intelligence files and talking with - some of their foreign counterparts, again, trying to determine is this someone that law enforcement knew about, and is this someone that we possibly should have been up on or should have stopped.
That's not to say that that's always the case. We have seen incidents where there may have been some type of sign. But again that will all be part of that investigation for authorities to determine who they're dealing with and then in the coming hours, in the coming days we're likely to see officers executing search warrants on this person's residence, for example. They're going to want to dig into this person's social media, if that exists, in order to get a full picture of who this person is, who his or her associates are.
And again the goal is to try to determine what was this person doing, who is in their orbit, were they acting alone or other involved.
HOWELL: And Josh, Natalie asked you about topic of soft targets, but also let's talk about the timing. So this is afternoon, a lot of people out and about, a lot of people some 200, perhaps, inside that mosque when all of this started happening.
CAMPBELL: Yes, exactly and that gets a level of premeditation and planning. We've heard from authorities that there might be two locations. So geographically this person would have likely plotted out where they were going to go in order to conduct an attack. But again if you're in the mindset of a depraved individual who's trying to cause a massive loss of life, the factor of timing would also come into that, is this the time of day where you're going to have a high number of people that are inside the facility.
Again, we've seen incidents where people actually research that, trying to determine, "OK, what are the hours of worship?" For example, when will we have the largest maximum number of people that could potentially serve as targets. Again, this is a terrible and morbid to talk about, but as investigators that's what they're going to try to determine, is this someone that was planning this for that reason, again, in order to cause this massive loss of life, not only for this investigation, but investigators also want to stop the next one.
They want to get into the mind of these people to determine what is motivating them, what did they do, what is making them tick, again, to try to determine is there someone else out there that may fit this profile, someone that could be stopped before they actually conduct an attack like this.
ALLEN: And as you're speaking, Josh, we're seeing file video of police that were responding, running. I'm just curious since gun control is very tight there in New Zealand, do you have any idea what kind of weapons they would be armed with or what kind of training they would go through considering the gun laws there in New Zealand?
CAMPBELL: Yes. So when I was in the FBI I worked very closely with officials in New Zealand, Australia, that part of the world. These are highly trained law enforcement officers. Again, although they don't see a particular threat on a given day, they do train to these very high standards, so these police officers go through these academies, they're familiar with weapons, an array of different weapons systems that they'll use.
You're not going to see the average cop out on the street carrying long gun, but you do have these technical teams that are trained every single day in order to respond to an incident. We've seen incidents happening not too far away in Australia where SWAT officers, tactical officers have had to respond into these series of emergent situations.
And so this is a type of training that authorities will obviously go through. They hope that they never have to use it, but there are teams in place that continue to train every single day in the event that something like this happens and they have to respond very quickly.
HOWELL: One thing that that is also interesting to hear these stories, just chilling stories of people who escaped the situation, people who hid, did the best they could to get out of that mosque after the shots rang out.
CAMPBELL: That's right. And we train now unfortunately members of the public and we've seen this in various countries to train for an active shooter. We've seen that with houses of worship. We've seen that with various businesses and government agencies. Again, trying to train their people what do you do, you're living your life, you're going about your day, but if something bad were to happen, do you have that sense of training of how you would respond.
Now, there are obviously been studies and their best practices that are pushed out to the population both domestically and internationally that you want to run, hide or fight in that order. If you can get out of a facility once you hear a gunfire, that's your safest bet to go. If that's not possible, you want to hide. You want to shelter in place. You want to find a place that you can conceal yourself, potentially serve as a barrier or something distance between you and the person that is actually conducting the attack. And then the last - as a last resort law enforcement trains people to
fight. If there's someone there that you need to engage, we've seen incidents where people actually - citizens, bystanders will take someone down because, again, they've gone through that training. They have that muscle memory.
And so as you've mentioned we've heard these stories and many incidents in recent days hearing from on the inside, what was taking place, a lot of these very chilling details, and not only is that we want to know what's happening not only the friends and family members of the victims we want to know what happened, but all of these people are witnesses now that saw this, and they will be key to investigator, trying to determine did they see one person, did they see multiple people, was there someone who is here casing the location, have they seen this person before.
Again, all that will go into this investigation to try to really get this full picture of what it is they're dealing with.
HOWELL: Those stories will be a key interest to these investigators, absolutely, as they try to understand who was in there, Josh. Thank you.
ALLEN: We appreciate your expertise, Josh. Josh Campbell, our Law Enforcement Analyst. Thanks so much. We don't know yet what the scene was. We do know one witness said imam was speaking when this person came in and the gunfire started. We don't know how people got out. We don't know how, thank goodness, this one person was apprehended.
We do know one person has been apprehended and again police are going to hold a briefing in about 15 minutes. We'll hopefully learn much more critical information and bring you that briefing live as we continue to follow this breaking news out of New Zealand where multiple people have been killed in a shooting more right after this.
HOWELL: Our breaking news coverage continues. George Howell alongside Natalie Allen and we understand the situation in New Zealand is still playing out. Police say there are multiple fatalities in an active shooting in central Christchurch. Here's what we know at this our.
Police say that one person is in custody. There may be others at large as well. Investigators say the shooting took place at two mosques in central Christchurch and you can see here on this map, you get a sense of where those locations are, one on Deans Avenue, the other Linwood Avenue.
ALLEN: All schools in this city remain on lockdown. It's just before 5:00 PM there on a Friday afternoon and police continue to ask people to avoid the downtown area because we haven't been told whether they believe that this situation is over, whether they know if there are any more people out there that were involved. They're also telling all Muslims to avoid mosques this evening. HOWELL: Armed units are deployed throughout central Christchurch.
Again, this started about 1:40 PM local time there. The Prime Minister of New Zealand calls it one of the darkest days in New Zealand's history.
ALLEN: Radio New Zealand Foreign Editor Graeme Acton in on with us now. He is in Wellington. Graeme, what more can you tell us about what happened there in Christchurch?
GRAEME ACTON, FOREIGN EDITOR, RADIO NEW ZEALAND: Hello, Natalie. Well, as you've just said the police say that the man entered the Al Noor mosque near Hagley Park just after Friday prayers began, he began shooting before he got inside and then continued on inside.
A lot of people escaped at the back of the mosque but a lot of people did not. And so he was later apprehended by the police and he's in custody. Meanwhile, the second shooting was going on almost at the same time across the other side of the city at least Christchurch and police say that there were number of shots fired there and witnesses have described five to six bodies on the ground at that scene.
THERE'S also reports some something going on at Christchurch Hospital, but I have no details on that. Also, in other various locations around the city.
HOWELL: And earlier we heard from a reporter telling us that near that hospital there was an active shooting situation. That's something we've not yet confirmed but that may speak to what you heard there. Give us a sense of what investigators police are doing right now. We do know that they're telling people to stay indoors and to avoid mosques, Muslims to avoid mosques for the rest of the evening.
ACTON: Yes, all mosques across the country now has been advised to close for today and that's right around the country, right across the country. And police in Christchurch at the moment basically their main focus is finding another shooter if there's another person involved in us which I think they believe there is somebody involved, but they just haven't located that person yet.
So the central part of Christchurch is pretty much locked down. It's completely flat with sort of a checkerboard system, so it's quite easy to lock the whole place down. We're still waiting to see what exactly comes out of it in the next few hours.
ALLEN: Yes, Graeme, I want to talk with you about the gun laws there are in New Zealand. If you can help us understand how strict they are and how unusual it would be to see a shooting, a mass shooting like this at several locations take place in this country. The Prime Minister seemed absolutely shocked.
ACTON: Yes, she was. I mean this shocked the whole country really to the core. This sort of thing has never happened in New Zealand's history before. The gun laws in New Zealand are one - some of the strictest in the world. You can buy rifles for hunting and other purposes. But there's very strict rules around the ownership of semi automatic weapons and pistols. [23:50:00]
Members of the public are not allowed to own pistols at all really apart from gun collectors and various other people. But it's not a gun culture like the U.S. People do not carry guns on the street. They don't have guns in their homes. Most of the people living in cities would - a lot of them wouldn't even have bought a gun, never have seen a gun even other than in the gun shop. So it's an event that has really shocked New Zealand on a Friday afternoon.
HOWELL: Graeme, give us a sense of what was happening there. Natalie just spoke about a climate change rally that was taking place. Many people out and about at that. This was a busy time.
ACTON: It was a busy time. I mean there's a lot of people in the mosque as Friday prayers gone underway. But the climate change, it was happening in Cathedral Square which is in the middle of Christchurch and school children from around the city, in fact, around the country had been given permission most of them to attend the climate change protest in Cathedral Square which was sort of focusing on young people's concerns of the climate change.
Cathedral Square are not that far away from the Al Noor mosque, but they're just added to the scenes of chaos really and sort of urgency around the initial reports of a shooting.
ALLEN: Graeme, any word on descriptions of the shooter that was apprehended?
ACTON: He's been reported to us as a sort of around 35-year-old white male but we haven't confirmed that yet at this point so we're just waiting to see what exactly comes through. The police are going to speak about this, I think, in about two minutes, so we'll get more information in.
HOWELL: And Graeme, I just want to understand as of right now are there other active situations that you're hearing about?
ACTON: Active ones? No. But the hunt is on for other people involved in this incident.
ALLEN: And you mentioned - we know that the shooter was apprehended at the first mosque. Is that the one on Deans street?
ACTON: That's correct, yes.
ALLEN: All right and then there was also report of a shooting at the Linwood mosque as well. How busy, how patch would both of these mosque had been at this time?
ACTON: The one in Linwood is not as big as the Al Noor mosque on Hagley Park there. That one would have had probably around 300 people in it at the time of the shooting as Friday prayers is normal. That assembly also included the Bangladeshi cricket team who are in Christchurch to play in New Zealand and again beginning tomorrow. They were all in there but they all got out and got back to their hotel with incident we understand.
ALLEN: Has there ...
HOWELL: Go ahead, please.
ALLEN: Has there been anything in the news recently, Graeme, any word on tensions with the Muslim community in New Zealand or any rallies about freedoms with worship there in New Zealand?
ACTON: Not at all. Not at all. I mean the number of Muslim refugees coming to this country from places like Syria, et cetera is not that large, but people come here, have peace on their mind really after a lot of tension and a lot of war in their background. And so they spend some time in refugee camps and then they selected and come to New Zealand.
So there is just no real tension between the Muslim community and the wider community. They may well be within the Muslim community, but I'm not really aware of that. But this hasn't been something that's been building up, this comes completely out of the blue really.
HOWELL: And we heard that from the Prime Minister saying that this is not New Zealand. Again, calling it one of New Zealand's darkest days. And again, Graeme, we understand multiple casualties, multiple injuries, police say there may be other offenders that as you point out, they are still trying to track down.
ACTON: That's right, George. Yes.
ALLEN: Well, Graeme, we appreciate you joining us and talking with us about this and we know you're very busy. But we want to tell people that might just be joining us, again we still haven't gotten word on how many people have been injured or killed from this shooting but the word is multiple fatalities. And again we expect to hear from police shortly on that and as Graeme was telling us, guns aren't seen on the streets of New Zealand.
ALLEN: This is something highly unusual. In fact, this has never happened in New Zealand before.
HOWELL: It's really interesting when you hear the Prime Minister. I mean certainly shocked by what's happening in her country, but she says it quite plainly this is not New Zealand. Let's listen to a bit of that interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARDERN: Presently, the police do have one suspect in custody. However, there could be others involved. Also, there are multiple things involved in this incident as well and police will be giving more details as they can as the situation unfolds.
[23:55:08] Whilst I cannot give any confirmation at this stage around fatalities
and casualties. What I can say is that it is clear that this is one of New Zealand's darkest days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: And we're still on with Graeme Acton is still with us, a journalist with Radio New Zealand. Let's talk about the Prime Minister, Graeme. She's relatively new Prime Minister for New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and now she has to deal with this. What do you expect from her?
HOWELL: We may not have Graeme there on the line but certainly this is a situation that she will be handling. She's headed back there now on a flight. That's what she was saying during the interview that she needs to get back to Wellington to understand all of the details around this situation.
ALLEN: Yes. We also heard from a reporter there, Graeme Acton, that there have been Muslim refugees that have come to New Zealand from Syria and elsewhere and for the most part it is done so with peace and they've been welcomed into the country. So he was expressing just shock that there would be an incident. He has heard that the person described is in custody as a white male in his mid 30s and that's all we know and there still may be another shooter out there.
HOWELL: Police are looking for other shooters. Families at this point certainly try to understand if their relatives are okay at this point. So that is playing out. We will continue to follow this story here at CNN and bring you the latest on the other side of a break. Stay with us.