Return to Transcripts main page


49 Killed As Gunmen Open Fire In Two Mosques In New Zealand's Christchurch; New Zealand Prime Minister: 40 Are Dead In Mass Shootings. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 15, 2019 - 02:00   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Two a.m. Eastern here in Atlanta, Georgia, and it is Friday evening in Christchurch, New Zealand. We continue to follow the horrific breaking news that has developed in the past three or four hours now.

Police say there are a significant number of fatalities after shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. New Zealand's TVNZ says at least nine people are dead, dozens wounded. That number is expected to rise. Four people are now in custody. That is the good news here. They have been caught. Authorities say they stopped and disarmed several vehicles that had improvised explosive devices, IEDs.

One gunman was wearing a body camera. This is the very, very sick part of a sick story. He opened fire wearing that body camera at a mosque, live streaming the shooting on social media. Facebook and Twitter have now taken down this horrific video. We have a witness now who was at one of the mosques. He described what he saw. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was thinking that he must run out of bullets. So what I did was basically waiting for that and praying to God, oh God please let this guy run out of bullets. When it stopped, the first time I went, one guy was sitting out just beside a wall, and what he did was he told me, 'no,' and then I went back again where I was. The next thing the guy came and shot this guy who told me not to get out. That was a sad moment and I know that guy. And he shot him straight in the chest. (END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: The people that got out were obviously very, very fortunate. We will tell you more about how the shooting went down and how we know that here in the moment. Police Commissioner Mike Bush briefed the media in the last hour. He talked about the people taken into custody and officers' response to the shootings.


MIKE BUSH, COMMISSIONER, NEW ZEALAND POLICE: The attacks were well apprehended by police staff. It has been an absolute act of bravery. I am hugely proud of our police staff who responded to this. But let's not presume that the danger is gone. So we want to make sure that we are right across that community. We are as visible and equipped as we need to be to make that happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were reports of (INAUDIBLE). Can you tell us more about that?

BUSH: I can tell you that there were a number of IEDs attached to the vehicles that we also stopped and made safe by the defense force, but that does go to the seriousness of the situation.


ALLEN: The police commissioner a short time ago. We also heard from New Zealand's prime minister. She was in Nairobi, Kenya when she learned of the mass shootings. She is flying home now but gave a news conference before taking off. Here is part of what she said.


JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: 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 subjects 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.


ALLEN: We want to go now to CNN's Anna Coren. She is in Hong Kong for us. She has been following developments from there. We talked with you earlier, Anna. We've talked about the fact that the sick person live streamed on social media this killing and you have seen it and you gave chilling details about just how unbelievably sickening this person was who did this.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, it is one of the most horrendous things that I have ever seen in my life. It was like watching a computer video game, one of those games where there is a gunman just mowing people down because that is exactly what this man did, man believed to be an Australian citizen, age in his 20s.

The video begins with him driving to a mosque. He gets out. He was obviously wearing a helmet camera. He gets out. He gets his semiautomatic weapon there, three in the front seat, he's carrying one. There is another two in the back. There's ammunition there. There is jerry can that you would presume is filled with fuel.

[02:05:02] He then walks very calmly to the mosque. He walks past people. He walks within the gate and start firing as he is walking to the front of this mosque. Then he enters the mosque and continues to fire, just mowing down anybody who is in his path.

People are screaming, people are moaning, people are crying out for help. He goes into a corridor. He reloads, walks back out, continue to shoot. He then walks outside the mosque and on to the pavement. He turns to one side, fires in that direction, shooting people. He then turns in the other direction shooting people.

He then walks to his car, reloads, gets more ammunition, walks back into the mosque. What is so chilling is how calm he is, Natalie, throughout this entire process. He then walks back in and he is walking up to these people who you presume have either been injured or have already been killed, and he is at point blank range, shooting every single person in the head.

He then calmly walks back out and he walks back out onto the pavement. He sees a woman. He fires at her. He then walks up to her. She is yelling, whimpering, help me, help me, and he shoots her in the head. He then walks back into his car and drives away. He is talking. He is laughing. He is firing outside, out the windscreen. He then fires outside the passenger window, breaks the window, just shooting random people.

You can hear the sirens of the police cars driving obviously towards the mosque, driving past him. And then what is just chilling is that he gets to a pedestrian crossing and stops, while he allows these people to walk past. The shooting spree, Natalie, happened for about six minutes. That was, you know, watching it from (INAUDIBLE). It was a six-minute shooting spree.

The video itself which was streamed live, we believe, on Facebook went for a total of 17 minutes. Now, as we know, police have said that they have arrested for people, three men and one woman. You would presume that one of those people would have to be that gunman. You can see him throughout the video when he is in the car looking through the rear- view mirror, and he is white.

He speaks with what sounds like an Australian accent. He is wearing a helmet. And like I said, he is like talking through this video and narrating it. It is calculated. It is absolutely chilling. As I= said, Natalie, it is one of the most horrendous things I have ever seen. I have seen on the New Zealand Herald, on their website, that are now reporting that at least 30 people are dead.

Obviously, we here at CNN are working to try and confirm that. We are waiting for the next police press conference with Commissioner Mike Bush to update us with that. There are dozens of people who have died in this hideous, heinous attack.

ALLEN: I just can't imagine. It is something that I never want to see. I can tell you've been severely affected by it. You know, earlier, police had said that -- we get a report from TV New Zealand saying nine are confirmed dead. But you have said to us during our coverage from what you saw watching this video that there were so many people that were killed.

COREN: Yeah, that's right. I think what I -- talking to in the last hour as he is mowing these people down, as you have covered multiple killing sprees obviously in the United States, I mean, this sort of thing doesn't happen in New Zealand. It is unheard of. New Zealand deals with earthquakes. That is traumatic and horrendous as it gets and not mass shootings on the scale never seen before. But he was just calculated in walking back to this mosque the second time. And the people who may have been lying on the ground playing dead, you know, make sure that he doesn't detect them, he made sure they were dead. He went up and he executed certainly the ones that we saw. There were multiple, multiple people on the ground. He just fired continuously for six minutes.

ALLEN: He also released an 87-page manifesto, anti-immigrant, anti- Muslim. Who care less what this man had to say obviously, but this sick person is presumably in police custody. We are so thankful of the police work that rounded up four people. Three men and one woman are in custody.

[02:10:01] Anna Coren, we thank you. We know this has been very difficult. Thanks, Anna. We have now also heard from the mayor of Christchurch. She has spoken out about the shooting and warning people to stay alert because the situation there is still active. She also says she can't believe something like this could ever happen in her city. Here she is.


MAYOR LIANNE DALZIEL, CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND: I think it is really important that people remain absolutely calm and feel free to talk to friends and family about the feelings that you have. That is natural. I never could believe that something like this would ever happen in the city of Christchurch, but actually I wouldn't even believe that this would ever happen in New Zealand. And it looks as if something, the worst, has happened. And we need to pull together and get through the situation.


ALLEN: Let's talk now with Steve Moore. He is joining us from Los Angeles. He is a CNN law enforcement analyst and retired supervisory FBI special agent. Steve, hearing from the mayor there saying she couldn't ever imagine this happened in her city, you know, you hear that a lot when these things happened from people where it happened in their neighborhood.

They are in shock. But New Zealand, you can really understand this is the first time in this country's history they have ever seen a mass shooting and you have to question why there and what was behind it.

STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yeah. You know, in the little way I can sympathize because I was woken up the other day in my own hometown, Thousand Oaks, and we had a mass shooting at a club that my kids go to, so I understand the shock.

What it means is simply that they are victims of the human race, I'm afraid. There are going to be people no matter where you are that are going to be deviant in their beliefs, in their thinking, whatever it is. And nobody is immune to this.

It hasn't seemed to get traction in places like New Zealand before, but you can never say never. And apparently, you know, it's kind of like getting critical mass. If you find two or three people who just have the same views who somehow come to meet each other, you can have something like this. It's astounding to me that you have four people, much less the many more that probably were involved, that would actually have a like mind to do something like this.

ALLEN: Right. Not just one, but several people came together apparently to carry this out. And they did it at two different mosques. Of course, the video there that Anna Coren was describing, just chilling, how this person went about this, like no big deal, that's how we know these things happen sometimes.

The question is how they were able to carry this out, how they were to pull together guns, this ammunition in a country where guns are illegal. What will police be looking for in that area of their investigation?

MOORE: Obviously, they are going to be trying to backtrack along the life of that guns or the guns, I'm sorry, and find out where they came from. Who facilitated their purchase? Who facilitated the weaponry, the ammunition, the magazines, the explosives? A lot of people had to be involved in this. They did not make the guns in their house. They got them from somebody.

So you are backtracking along the way in trying to find out every single -- this is like cancer. You have to get it out with good margins. You can't just say we've got the main tumor here. We've got four people who did this. Well, guess what, they had helped. It is like the turtle on the fence posts, you know he did not get there alone. That's what's going on here.

These people did not do this alone. And while they may have the main actors in this, the people who supported, either in a very small way or kept it secret, something like that, that's where they are going next with this.

ALLEN: And when and how will police determine that they have everyone? That they have rounded up the people that were actively involved in this? Because we've heard over and over, the police saying, we don't know if this is over. We don't know that this city is out of danger yet.

MOORE: No, you may not know that for a while. I mean, one thing -- you know, I heard another commentator say, you've got to interview witnesses to find out how many people. That's the worst way to do it because everybody sees more or less people than actually were there.

[02:14:58] The way you have to do this is take the organization apart person by person. One thing that's going to help you here is that you have videos. And if they videotaped the attack, I'll bet you anything, they videotaped the training, they did all sorts of things so that they can have their fame within the organization.

You're going to find out that there are international parts to this because you are going to need help across national borders to get this kind of stuff. And likely, it is through nationalistic organizations and it could be in Europe, it could be in the United States, it could be in Australia. You are going to find international connections here.

And when they do this attack, they want credit. They have just thrown their lives away, essentially, and they're not going to do it without getting something in return. Something in return is usually fame within the organization, and how do you do that? You videotape everything. So, I believe you are going to have a lot of media, a lot of computer files. There's going to be a lot of stuff here to follow.

ALLEN: Steve Moore, we appreciate your expertise as always, CNN law enforcement analyst. Thank you. We appreciate it. There is much more in our breaking news coverage right after this.


ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen coming to you live from Atlanta, Georgia. We want to continue to bring you developments of the major breaking news, an absolute catastrophe out of Christchurch, New Zealand, mass shootings at two different mosques with multiple fatalities.

Police say they don't have a precise number, but the death toll is "significant." Broadcaster TVNZ reports at least nine people have been killed. Hundreds of people were in one of the mosques though when it was attacked.

Police say three men and one woman have been arrested, but they caution that there still could be others involved who have not been arrested, so the danger might not be over. They even found cars rigged with explosives, IEDs. One of the alleged gunmen was wearing a body camera and live streamed the bloodshed. Social media sites have been taking it down.

[02:19:55] One attacker is believed to have also posted along some 87 pages on an anti-immigrant manifesto giving explanations for the attack. Police say even though people are in custody, the situation is still ongoing. They are sending all available resources out across the city to make sure everyone is safe. Take a listen.


BUSH: We have four people in custody. We are not aware of other people but we cannot assume there are not others at large. We are pouring resources into that area, every available (INAUDIBLE) and staff member, people nearby, other emergency services also are saturating that area with visibility to ensure that everyone who needs to get home can get so safely.

We are also setting up a facility, as we must, because this is absolutely tragic, there will be so many affected, so that people can get more information. They will be worried about their loved ones. We don't have the identities of those people who have died as yet because those locations are still locked down. But we want to make sure we set up a facility where people can phone in and get the information they need.

That is an absolute priority and our people are doing that at the moment. As you can imagine, this is requiring every police and emergency resource that we have available. We have defense force aircraft here in Wellington ready to fly more resources into the area. We will do that from other locations nearby as well. I want to assure the public that we are doing everything we can to make sure there is no more harm to the communities.


ALLEN: And he also said they have not identified those that were killed. They still do not have a number, as we said, but we did talk with someone with ambulance services earlier who said they transported at least 50 people to hospitals.

And earlier, we spoke with Chris Lynch. He is a radio host for Newstalk ZB radio. He says right now he feels defeated, that the city, of course, is resilient, but this is an awful tragedy to come from and something new to this area. Take a listen.


CHRIS LYNCH, RADIO HOST, NEWSTALK ZB RADIO (voice-over): I've just spoken to somebody at the emergency department of Christchurch public hospital. The doctors there are still concerned because they are getting reports from across people who have witnessed some of these attacks that there may be more shooters. Now, I don't want to sound alarmist, but that is the way that the situation is unfolding.

To give you some context, Christchurch City has a population of about 420,000, a very peaceful city. The mosque in Christchurch in downtown Christchurch is (INAUDIBLE) kind of like the friendly neighborhood mosque because every year, once a year the mosque opens to Christchurch residents. As I come on in (ph), this is the situation.

To give you some context, I believe there are probably about 40,000 people across Christchurch City in lockdown. Most schools remained in lockdown. It is now nearly 6:00 p.m. in New Zealand and schools finish at 3:00 p.m. They are being told to stay indoors. With all these situations, the reports are conflicting, but it is feared that the potentially 30 people could be dead from the shooting.

I chose not to watch the disturbing footage that has been circulating on the internet, but I have seen (INAUDIBLE) and it does show an attacker going inside at the mosque entering through Christchurch and this person starts shooting people. I've seen from the images that have been circulating on social media, you know, from what I can see, they all look like white men between 20 and 30 years of age.

But I'll tell you what, I've been broadcasting in Christchurch for seven years. We have been through one hell of a fight. We had the devastating 2011 earthquake. We had wildfires. And it was a sense of normality (ph) that started to come across the city. It is actually in the last sort of four or five months that the city was getting back on its feet.

As always, we're used when it comes to disasters, resilience. But I can tell you as a talk host here at the radio station, I feel defeated. My heart goes out to all the people that will be affected by this today. So, it's just an absolute awful tragedy.


ALLEN:: Chris Lynch there earlier. Since we talked with him, the lockdown has been ended for all of the schoolchildren that weren't able to leave home and be reunited with their parents. We are happy to say that is now over and they are with their families.

Well, the head of St. John Ambulance in New Zealand says more than 20 ambulances responded to the shooting and dozens of people are now being treated in hospitals.

[02:25:01] This is Peter Bradley told us a short time ago.


PETER BRADLEY, CEO, ST. JOHN AMBULANCE, NEW ZEALAND: We were called about multiple shootings at 1:53 New Zealand time. We had ambulances on the scene within a matter of minutes. What a terrible situation and scenario for the emergency service responders to come across when they arrived.

Over the preceding hours, we transported dozens of patients to hospitals and there were clearly a number of fatalities. Injuries are ranging from gunshot wounds to head and face, arms, legs and torso, and soft tissue injuries of people trying to escape and made their escape. We had over 20 ambulances responding --


ALLEN: Let's take you straightaway now live to the New Zealand prime minister who is speaking now.


ARDERN: -- seriously injured who are currently in Christchurch A&E. It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack. From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned. Two explosive devices attached to suspects' vehicles have now been found and they have been disarmed.

There are currently four individuals who have been apprehended but three are connected to this attack and are currently in custody, one of which has publicly stated that they were Australian born. These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world.

While we do not have any reason to believe at this stage that there are other suspects, we are not assuming that at this stage. The joint intelligence group has been deployed and police are pushing all of their resources into this situation.

The defence force is currently transporting additional police staff to the region. Our national security threat level has been lifted from low to high. This I want to assure people is to ensure that all our agencies are responding in the most appropriate way. That includes at our borders.

Air New Zealand has cancelled all turbo prop flights out of Christchurch tonight and will review the situation in the morning. Jet services both domestically and internationally are continuing to operate.

I say again there is heightened security. That is of course so we can assure people of their safety and the police are working hard to ensure that people are able to move around this city safely.

I have spoken this evening to the mayor of Christchurch and I intend to speak this evening to the imam, but I also want to send a message to those directly affected. In fact, I am sure right now New Zealand would like me to share a message on their behalf too.

Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who have been impacted today. Christchurch was the home of these victims. For many, this may not have been the place they were born. In fact, for many, New Zealand was their choice. The place they actively came to, and committed themselves to. The place they were raising their families. Where they were part of communities that they loved and who loved them. It was a place that many came to for its safety, a place where they were free to practice their culture and their religion.

For those of you who are watching at home tonight, and questioning how this could have happened here, we, New Zealand, we were not a target because we are a safe harbour for those who hate. We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things.

Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it. And those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.

We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages. And amongst that diversity, we share common values. And the one the we place the currency on right now and tonight is our compassion and the support for the community of thos directly affected by this tragedy.

[02:30:00] And secondly, the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this. You may have chosen us but we utterly reject and condemn you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did the perpetrators of this (INAUDIBLE)

ARDERN: What I can inform you of this time that those that -- as far as I'm advised currently in custody were not on security watchlist. That I'm sure will be a question as if they would -- if they would've known from a security perspective and they were not on any active watchlist. Of course the police are currently questioning those in custody, so there is not too much more I can say at this time

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that good enough that they weren't on watchlist? Is this permittable? ARDERN: I think it gets to an indication there at least from that -- in that regard as they weren't on watchlist, so it's not a matter of someone having slipped under the radar. Again though, it is early days that's the assurance I can give people at this time. People are in today obviously being questioned. The commissioner police will be giving an update again roughly between somewhere 8:00 and 8:30. Those questions perhaps you can put to him again.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there much attention on Muslim terrorist rather than whites to supreme --


ARDERN: I think we should be vigilant against the idea of extreme ideology and extreme violence and violent acts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the agency been putting too much of the focus on one seat of the --


ARDERN: You'll notice from the language that you hear from those who work in our intelligence and security services that their forces is on extremism regardless of where it comes from. We need to be blind in that regard. It needs to absolutely focus on threat and ideology and extremism because obviously that is what we have experience here today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- where innocence is gone?

ARDERN: We have undoubtedly experienced and detect today that unprecedented unlike anything that we have experienced before. But as I say, New Zealand has been chosen because we are not a place where violent extremism exists. We reject those news notions and we must continue to reject them. This is not an enclave for that kind of behavior, for that kind of ideology. We will and must reject it.

This is a place where people should feel secure and will feel secure. I am not going to let this change New Zealand profile, none of us should.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) the intelligence agency's watchlist one option?

ARDERN: Obviously, there is an indication to you that they have not acted in a way that warranted it. Again now, feel free to asked further questions at this time I'm not in a place to give you additional information beyond that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're talking presumably --

(CROSSTALK) ARDERN: Sorry, Barry. Taking question from Claire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you get any information from Australia about whether they were on watchlist (INAUDIBLE)

ARDERN: My understanding at this stage is that they weren't on watchlist. Again, I do not want to go too much beyond this. It is early days. You'll also understand I won't jeopardize the case that may be taken in the future as well. I do also want to acknowledge that I have been contacted by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, I need to speak with him directly as soon as I'm able.



ARDERN: Not at this stage, but I'm sure that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister of Australia have contacted the prime minister myself.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- the I.D. of the victims?

ARDERN: Not at this stage fixed. I will have been amongst other members of the public who well have seen the footage as the injured were being brought to Christchurch and the -- and you certainly can see from that footage there is a real range of ages there. I imagine that these would have represented particular brothers, fathers, sons.


ARDERN: I haven't had a breakdown at the statutory. That's the only information I can share.



ARDERN: Again, these are questions that at this point I'm unable to give additional details on.

[02:35:02] Obviously (INAUDIBLE) is in custody now, so I can give that assurance he has been apprehended. He is also accompanied by two other associates, he has been actively questioned. These could be additional quantity you can give to the commissioner police. Absolutely, I've given you the advice to have given me about the watch list, but obviously these maybe additional questions that you can put to the commissioner of police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that you were asking if you're --

ARDERN: Obviously. Absolutely. Again, as I say, I've given you the advice that have given me about watchlist but obviously these are absolutely questions that will be asking including access to the firearms. (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your advice about any (INAUDIBLE) and what is the advice to the people out there who still might be very worried about the situation?

ARDERN: At this stage, I'm certainly asking people to follow the advice of the police. Yes. We have apprehended, there have been three individuals apprehended, however the police aren't taking for granted that there may will be others that may need to be brought into custody. They've got no reason to speak that but they haven't ruled it out. So please in the meantime, continue to listen to police advice.

But I also want to give assurance to people. The police are obviously incredibly active on the ground. They are bringing in additional police officers, the defense forces are bringing them down. So just listen to the advice that's available to you. But we are ensuring the security of those who are moving around in Christchurch at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) you say there is one principle into associates --


ARDERN: They're not connected -- they're not directly connected to the attack.


ARDERN: That is my understanding. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us why they've been arrested?

ARDERN: In connection to the attacks today. Or the individual that wasn't. That would be a question for Commissioner Bush, I'm not sure if there's something I'm able to hear but there' not anyone who is a threat to the public.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the relationship of those arrested to one another? Do they share same ideology or what is their --


ARDERN: Certainly that is the assumption that I would make at this stage. We've seen from one of the offenders that they have publicize their ideology. I have no reason to assume anything other than those other who have been arrested would subscribe to the same ideology which I can only called as crime --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your plan --


ARDERN: I'm not in a position to give away additional details on the -- on the citizenship at the stage, Barry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have anything else about their IDs, what they're wearing, how they sound and (INAUDIBLE)

ARDERN: You know, at this point I think there's an opportunity to really acknowledge the work that the police are doing. You know, the apprehending of a suspect in and extremely volatile situation really putting themselves at risk on our behalf and I want to acknowledge that particularly also disarming the explosives that were -- as I understand attached to the suspects cars. There were two of them.

They have been disarmed now but obviously that was a high-risk situation. It gives us an indication that there was a degree of planning around what has happened today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there a notation for a suicide attack?

ARDERN: I cannot speculate around what the intention was, but again it was attached to the suspects' vehicles.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there any other IDs out there?

ARDERN: Not at this stage.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any message for anybody who (INAUDIBLE)

ARDERN: My message would be, you know, we should be perpetuating, sharing, giving any oxygen to this act of violence and their message that sit behind it. We should all be condemning obviously what has happened here today. And the peaceful nation of New Zealand and what all of us can at least -- at least ensure that we do not share, spread, or actively engaged in that message of hate.

We have been giving assurance that online - at least those platforms where some of those images have been shared are actively being removed. But I just ask people don't share them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we call -- sorry, can we still call ourselves a peaceful nation?

ARDERN: Yes. This is not who we are. This act was not a reflection of who we are as a nation. That is why so many New Zealand, every New Zealander I imagine will be shocked by this today because this isn't who we are. You know, this is something that we -- all of us will reject. And of course it will take time to heal and tonight our thoughts and our prayers need to be with those affected but I'm sure of course that all of us want to retain the identity we have as a nation because that's why those who live here, live here.


[02:40:06] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) for the hope in New Zealand.

ARDERN: Of course our agencies always need to be prepared. We need to be vigilant. We need to ensure that if we have an act like this on our shores that we respond quickly to give assurances to the public that we can protect them and that be safety is top of mind. So we are always prepared. We're personally prepared for these things happened. An event like this of course is always a shock but for our agencies we were ready.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: attacks like the -- unfortunately been copycat attacks (INAUDIBLE) is that concern in New Zealand?

ARDERN: We must always be vigilant. Obviously we have left now threat level from low to high. That of course so that we can continue to give assurances to the public around the safety. That means we have heightened our response from our agencies at the border, at the airport, in fact at every level, we have a heightened response. And again, that's we can give that assurance of safety to the public.



ARDERN: Certainly, as I say, of course, events like this, we always have preparations in place, and of course we'll always be working to ensure that we've have adequately responded.


ARDERN: Yes. I'm very keen to travelers as soon as I can but of course within reason taking advice from the police around when I can do that in a way that doesn't interfere with the operation work. My hope is that the very lightest that will be down there tomorrow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you heard from Scott Morrison, are there any world leaders around the world that have contacted you in the wake of this attack?

ARDERN: Look, some of it may have come directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade but at least I know directly certainly from Australia or the stage. Often we suggest it conveyed via social media as well and I'm sure I would want to thank them for their thoughts and their offers of assistance.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- at the hospital whether they were any shots fired or whether there was aggression against?

ARDERN: No. No. I haven't -- I haven't had any information that confirms that at all. No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it was an IED found on an individual?

ARDERN: No, I cannot confirm that. Do feel free to put that question to the commissioner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Presumably you'll be having more meetings with their intelligence agencies to find out just what went on and why? These people would miss. When do you go to the meeting with them again?

ARDERN: Look, I expect I'm likely to reconvene with them again this evening. You will appreciate, Barry, that the moment our media response is on ensuring the safety of those in Christchurch. Ensuring that the police have everything they need from a operational perspective to secure the areas and be assured that everyone who should be custody is. Acknowledging that they have moved extremely quickly to have those individuals already in custody.

Of course we will continue to look at the details around the suspects and every element of this attack but tonight it's about securing the safety of others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you please clarify how many gunmen or gunwomen there were in this attack?

ARDERN: (INAUDIBLE) I say three have been arrested. We have no reason to suspect at this stage there were others but we haven't obviously ruled that out at this stage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- sue firearms?

ARDERN: I cannot give you 100 percent assurances of that. But certainly all three are connected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least will you be getting any additional security or would be any additional security at the Parliament?

ARDERN: Look, at this stage, obviously I'm one of the members of Parliament that always has a security detail with me. Obviously the moment that we were informed of this situation, there was a slightly heightened presence. But I expect that soon that will probably resume back to my normal presence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So on the previous question, that was different (INAUDIBLE)

ARDERN: I will see for offenders who -- look, I can't give specifics around who was directly involved at each mosque, and nor I'm sure at this stage that that's detail that we're sharing do feel free to put the question to the commissioner going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) have been sort of reveal? ARDERN: That is my understanding.


[02:44:54] ARDERN: Yes, at this stage, advice has been giving to those who dutifully wish to worship at their local mosque, and that for the time being, they're being asked to, to just not to congregate there. But in time, my hope would be that the outpouring of compassion and support that I know New Zealanders were want to show, show it to them.

Show it to the members of the community who sought to worship safely and who were the victims of this -- of this attack today. And I know New Zealanders will want to do then.


ARDERN: My understanding that it is a relatively short period of time, since last entry into New Zealand. Again, I don't want to get into too many details around that because that's still an emerging picture.


ARDERN: Sorry. What I'll -- what I'll say a moment I said they weren't on, on a watch list. Again, I'm cautious around how much more I say given that we have individuals in custody and I don't want to jeopardize the case.

But it may be they tell that the commissioner maybe won't willing to share. All right, everyone, look all -- look to reconvene and I give you any additional insights I can tomorrow. And we'll be keeping everyone updated. My plan is just get to Christchurch as early as I can and as soon as the police are happy for me to do so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bomb scare, a person that -- do you notice connected in any way?

ARDERN: No, I certainly can't confirm that. That's nothing I've been briefed on. We'll make sure that the commissioner is able to give you information as soon as possible. Thank you, everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prime Minister Jacinda --


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome now to viewers here in the United States, and around the world. I'm George Howell. Following the breaking news from Christchurch, New Zealand a terror attack that happened in the early afternoon there and we just heard from the prime minister of that nation Jacinda Arden, speaking confirming now that 40 people died in these multiple mass shootings that happened at two different mosques in the city of Christchurch.

20 people seriously injured and on the map, you can see exactly where the al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue. Another smaller mosque on Linwood Avenue. Police say, at least, three people are in custody in connection with these attacks. And authorities say they have stopped and disarmed several vehicles with IEDs, Improvised Explosive Devices.

One gunman was wearing a body camera as he opened fire at a mosque. Live streaming the whole thing, the shooting on social media. Facebook and Twitter have taken down that disgusting video.

A bus carrying Bangladesh's cricket team pulled up at the time, at the shooting was happening at one mosque, video shows them here walking away from the scene, unhurt.

Let's bring in Steve Moore. Steve has been with us in Los Angeles. Steve is a CNN law enforcement analyst and a retired supervisory FBI special agent. Steve, at the prime minister bringing up the issue of how these people were able to get access to these weapons?

STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, that's going to be one of the major threads of this investigation. Is where, where these weapons came from? Again, there are guns available in the world, I think it's not unlikely that they came from out of the country, but that doesn't mean there aren't guns in the country. There is -- there's nothing that we as mankind have been able to legislate out of existence that I know of in history. And guns are unfortunately going to be available.

If somebody wants to hurt somebody with a specific weapon, they will do what it takes to get that weapon. And it could be that these guns came from outside of New Zealand, but they were available.

HOWELL: Let's talk about what we know at this point. Again, we understand three people have been arrested in connection with this particular set of mass shootings. So, where does it go from here? As certainly, these two people -- these three people will be key for investigators to learn the motives. Learn how many other people may have been involved.

MOORE: Absolutely. And what you're going to find is these were likely the most involved or -- you know, it's possible they are the only ones. I wouldn't bet much on that if I were to lead investigator at this point, because it just seems that there was so much planning, so much likely casing. Probably, some run troughs.

It is hard for me to understand how they could have pulled this off without help. It's not impossible and it could be just these four. But I would expect others to be looked at possibly more arrests in this.

Because there are people who may not be major contributors to this. But they might have been aware of it, they might have provided just a small amounts of support.

[02:50:02] HOWELL: Steve, one other question, just quickly. The death toll, we understand 40 people who were killed and you know, I think about how slow that process will be to identify the dead and to make sure the next of kin is notified accurately. MOORE: Yes. That's going to be very hard and you can't make mistakes in this. And it's going to tax them because they don't have experience in large mass casualties. But I believe they'll do their best on this.

HOWELL: Steve Moore, thank you so much for your time there in Los Angeles. We'll stay in touch with you.

Again, we're following the breaking news, this set of mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. 40 people have been killed. Stay with us, we'll be right back after the break.


HOWELL: We're following the "BREAKING NEWS" this hour. Out of Christchurch, New Zealand, mass shootings at two different mosques with many, many fatalities.

Just moments ago, the Prime Minister of that nation confirmed, at least, 40 people -- 40 people, were killed in these two attacks. One at a mosque on Deans Avenue, on one side of the city. And on the other on Linwood Avenue, a mosque there. At least 20 other people seriously injured.

New Zealand's prime minister, also says that three people have been arrested in connection with this attack but police caution there could still be others at large and the danger might not be over.

Including cars rigged with IEDs, the explosive devices out. One of the gunmen allegedly was wearing a body camera and live stream the whole thing. Social media sites have taken it down.

One attacker is believed to have also posted a long anti-immigrant manifesto giving whatever explanations that person has to say. A bus carrying Bangladesh's cricket team pulled up at the mosque during the shooting. And you can see here the video of them walking away from that scene unhurt.

Also, New Zealand's prime minister spoke just moments ago and gave details about the shooting and condemned them as an assault on everything that people in New Zealand hold dear. Here's part of what she had to say.


ARDERN: Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who have been impacted today. Christchurch was the home of these victims. For many, this may not have been the place they were born. In fact, for many New Zealand was their choice. The place they actively came to and committed themselves to. The place they were raising their families, where they were part of communities that they loved and who loved them.

It was a place that many came to for its safety. A place where they were free to practice their culture and their religion. For those of you who are watching at home tonight, and questioning how this could have happened here. We, New Zealand, we were not a target because we are a safe harbor for those who hate. We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we're an enclave for extremism, we were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things.

Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it. And those values I can assure you will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.


[02:55:13] HOWELL: On the phone now we have Radio New Zealand foreign editor Graeme Acton, following this story from Wellington. And if you could just give us a sense very briefly here, what is the situation right now in Wellington? Or in Christchurch.

GRAEME ACTON, FOREIGN EDITOR, RADIO NEW ZEALAND (via telephone): In Christchurch, George. Yes, the central -- the central part of the city is still locked down. The suburban part is returning to normal. The schools have been adopt and has been removed from the schools, and the university.

Just the central part of the city is still heavy police presence in there and effect also the presence of the New Zealand SAS as well. As police are concerned that there could be one or possibly even more than one person who was involved in this -- in this crime today is still at large in the city somewhere.

The flights out of Christchurch and affect domestic flights around the country have been canceled tonight. And the city of Christchurch is really reeling from this and just wondering where to go next really.

HOWELL: And as far as the investigation goes. As far as looking for any other possible actors who might have been involved, that continues on at this hour, correct?

ACTON: That's correct. Yes, there's still police everywhere in central Christchurch. And I don't even -- any new information about who they may be chasing. I think we don't have any information about who they actually have in custody except for one man who was an Australian called Brenton Tarrant who was the man who was detained at the al Noor mosque after the shootings occurred.

HOWELL: We heard from the prime minister earlier, what stood out to you with the information that she shared again, confirming that, at least 40 people had been killed?

ACTON: Yes, 40 people dead. 10 at the Linwood mosque, and 30 at the al Noor mosque. I think that will -- there will be very shocking to most New Zealanders. All we knew there are a few people have been killed. But the last figure we had was nine. And there was a couple of hours ago, so it's gone to 40 people dead, 48 people in hospital.

I think that there was a -- she was visibly shocked the prime minister in delivering a speech to the nation. But she made some very good points about how New Zealand's society operates, and how New Zealand views minorities and people are coming to this country, there's refugees and immigrants in general.

HOWELL: Graeme Acton, thank you again for being with us. And we'll continue to stay in touch with you as you learn more. But again, just updating our viewers in the U.S. and around the world, according to the prime minister of New Zealand, 40 people killed in a terror attack that happened in Christchurch, New Zealand. 30 people killed at one mosque, 10 people killed at another mosque.

This being described as a terror attack and three people are in custody at this point of being questioned by investigators. And we understand that none of the three were on any watch list at this point. This according to the prime minister.

You see the two mosques there on the map. One on Deans Avenue, the other on Linwood Avenue, and 20 people seriously injured. That's where we are right now. We will have more news and more updates on this on the other side of this break as we continue following this breaking story. Stand by.