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A Man In His Late 20s Has Been Charged With Murder In New Zealand Following What The Prime Minister Called An Extraordinary And Unprecedented Act Of Violence; Mohan Ibn Ibrahim, Witness To Mosque Shooting Interviewed. Aired: 5-6a ET
Aired March 15, 2019 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST, CNN: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong with continuing coverage of the breaking news from Christchurch, New Zealand, a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder in New Zealand following what the Prime Minister called an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence. The gunman carried out mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, killing 49 people and wounding dozens of others, including young children.
Three people are now in custody in connection with the attack and so far one of them has been charged with murder. The suspect is due to appear in court on Saturday according to the Police Commissioner. The attacks on the two mosques happened around 1:40 in the afternoon local time. Police also found possibly two improvised explosive devices, IEDs on a car as well.
In the last hour, they said that they've disabled one and were still working on the other. New Zealand's Police Commissioner gave this update a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE BUSH, NEW ZEALAND POLICE COMMISSIONER: A continually evolving event, but we will do our absolute best and if things change, we will update you on that as well.
This unprecedented abhorrent event is as you have heard the Prime Minister tonight now classified as a terrorist event. I want to give some more clarity about the number of people who have tragically lost their lives.
At the Deans Avenue mosque, we now know that 41 people have lost their lives, and at the Linwood mosque, seven have lost their lives. Of the 40 people have been treated at Christchurch Hospital, one has now passed. So the total number of people who have died in this horrendous event are 49. And our hearts go out to them and all of their family, all of their friends, all of their loved ones and I want to assure everyone that we will do our best for them.
And at the end I will talk about and give you the 0800 number so that people can contact us to get more information about those who have died and some surrounding circumstance. I would like to also add that so far, one person, a male and his late
20s has been charged with murder and should appear in a Christchurch court tomorrow morning. Three other people were apprehended. We believe one of those persons who was armed and was at the scene may have had nothing to do with this incident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: Matt Rivers joins us now and Matt, you've been following the coverage all day today, 49 people now dead. Can you bring us up to speed with the investigation, what is known and also the gaps in knowledge, what we still are waiting to find out?
MATT RIVERS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, so I think it's important to point out, Kristie, right off the top here that this is very much an ongoing situation. The investigation is just getting started here and really, since we've been covering this event, you know, the details keep changing hour after hour after hour.
But let us go over again what we do know and I think it's important to point out again right off the top here is that there -- police are saying that there is no active threat remaining, at least that they know about. They're not actively searching for another gunman or anything like that. So that's good news for the people of New Zealand.
But they are also saying they have issued warnings to people across New Zealand to remain vigilant tonight and even stay indoors. But let's recap the investigation so far. Forty nine people dead so far, as you heard the Police Commissioner, say 41 at the scene at one mosque, seven at another and one person has died at the hospital so far. That number could go up. There's 39 people at least that we know about that remain in the Christchurch Hospital injured as a result of this horrific attack and so this death toll could go up. That remains a possibility at this point.
RIVERS: Now in terms of what we know about who committed these attacks, one person in custody, a white male, late 20s, we don't know his name according to police yet, they're not willing to identify him publicly. But he has been charged with murder and he will likely appear in court tomorrow morning. But he has been charged with murder so far.
Now, we heard about three other people earlier in the day who had been apprehended, the police clarified that basically saying that all three had weapons on them and were in the vicinity of the area where the attacks happened when they happened. One of those people it appears has been cleared of any connection to the attack. Two others are still being questioned by police to see what they were doing in the area with weapons at the time that these attacks took place.
Now, they were two separate attacks, right, one at one mosque one at another. Police are not confirming at least at this point, whether they believe that those two attacks were committed by the same man. They also wouldn't identify the person in a video that has made the rounds across the internet, it appears that this attack, at least one of the attacks was livestreamed. CNN is choosing not to show that video. I have seen it. It is horrific, and we are choosing not to air that on our channel.
But it does purport to show this attack taking place. Police wouldn't confirm that and they also would not confirm the identity of the person in that video. We should repeat no other threats have been made at this at this time, so they're not actively looking for anyone else.
And they also said that none of the people that they apprehended or the person that has been charged so far, Kristie, were on any sort of watch list that they could have seen this attack coming. The Prime Minister said that those questions will be asked in the days to come, what could have been done, if anything, to prevent these attacks. But at least for now, they were not on any watch list according to the Police Commissioner of New Zealand in either New Zealand or Australia, but Kristie, this investigation again, is still very much ongoing.
LU STOUT: Yes, the investigation is ongoing. An arrest has been made. That suspect to appear in court tomorrow. As you said the head of New Zealand police saying that he doesn't believe that there are any other threats out there since responding to these incidents, these two shootings earlier today. That being said, there is a threat out there, a threat and warnings given to those in the Muslim community in New Zealand, what can you tell us?
RIVERS: Yes, well what the Police Commissioner is telling people is to remain vigilant, there might not be an active threat. But you know that he said that they never assume that they know everything. And so for that matter or for that fact, they are advising people to stay at home tonight. Don't go visit one and other, of course, talk and share phone calls, text messages, whatever, but not to go out of their homes and go visit with one another.
And you can imagine that's all people would want to do at this point, at least to comfort one another. But they would have to leave the safety of their own homes. And police are saying perhaps don't do that at the moment. They say that they have stepped up police patrols at mosques all over the country and they are going to do everything they can to reassure the public in New Zealand that they are safe. And this message is being reverberated around the world.
And we've seen cities in the United States -- Los Angeles, Minneapolis -- other places in the U.S. with large Muslim populations have already publicly said they're going to step up patrols outside of mosques. And that's the consequences of actions like this. There are law enforcement agencies worldwide that will be concerned about the threat of a copycat attack and they will be doing everything they can to make sure that that doesn't happen, but the impact of this attack in New Zealand, Kristie, I don't think can be overstated. It is the worst mass shooting in the country's history. And it's just a few hours old. There is no way that the people there can even really understand what happened here, comprehend it, you know, I think it's just -- it's so early on. The impact is tragic and, and massive. LU STOUT: Yes, it's an active extreme and mind boggling violence. At
least 49 people dead. That's what we're reporting on right now. We're also learning Muslim countries around the world have been offering condolences to the victims of these horrific shootings. Matt Rivers reporting. Thank you and joining us now on the phone is Mohammed Shafiq. He is the Chief Executive of the Ramadan Foundation. And thank you so much, sir, for joining us here in the program. Condolences to the Muslim community in New Zealand and also around the world who are stirred and shaken by this attack. What's your reaction to the shootings that took place at mosques in Christchurch today?
MOHAMMED SHAFIQ, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE RAMADAN FOUNDATION (via phone): h, well, obviously, as you rightly said, all decent people around the world will actually condemn what we've seen in Christchurch and send our prayers and condolences.
This wasn't just an attack against Muslims and the mosque. This was an attack against all places of worship and all decent people around the world. And it requires all of us to stand together, united against hatred and division. And for too long, the casual acceptance of Islamophobia, the casual hatred towards the Muslim community that has been embedded ...
SHAFIQ: ... within societies across the world have been tolerated for too long. And you know, this terrorist attack is a consequence of that deep rhetoric that we see around the world from our politicians, media and commentators.
LU STOUT: You say that this was an attack against faith, this was an attack against Islam. Moments ago, I spoke to a terror analyst, Sajjan Gohel who said that this attack had an intention, it was a terrorist attack that wants to cause a race war and that it wants to incite violence. Do you fear that?
SHAFIQ: There are extremists on both sides, of the ISIS, al-Qaeda and others that want a similar war between Muslims and the rest of the world. And there are far right extremist who want a race war. And as I said, the vast majority of decent people around the world watching your program are decent people, law abiding people, and people who believe in tolerance and coexistence. And they're working, you know, we are working very hard to tackle this within the Muslim community. But it requires now, concerted effort, if I may say, so, the rhetoric that we see from the White House and President Trump over these past few years have allowed a narrative to be settled within people's minds.
There are some Muslims who are alien to Western societies, we've dehumanized Islam and Muslims to a point where this sort of terrorist atrocity becomes a norm, and I think that's the deeply worrying thing.
LU STOUT: And not just the grizzly act itself, the mowing down of dozens and dozens of people in places of worship, but also the fact that it was filmed and it was livestreamed and was shared on social media. Does that alarm you even more? SHAFIQ: Yes, I find that deeply traumatic and shocking. You know, I
live thousands of miles away in the United Kingdom and I must have got back some aspects of video sent via social media. It's despicable. And I'm really glad that social media companies are taking immediate action to remove that from their platforms.
But it's just not good enough. I think the casual way which we've accepted hatred towards communities has got to be taken on and I think those social media giant companies have got a huge responsibility to, you know, to take off hate whether it's towards Muslims, but also towards Jewish community, or the LGBT community, or any community, you know, the depth these media giants have got to take action.
And I hope that we can use this awful moment in the history of the world to bring communities together.
LU STOUT: You know, Facebook did react to it. They said that it took the video off its platform. But the truth about the internet is, it's like an oil spill. Once it's out there, it's out there. And do you fear that the video could scar the minds of people, not just in New Zealand, but around the world and could even create copycat incidents? Heaven forbid.
SHAFIQ: Yes, I think the main suspect who's been arrested has claimed in a manifesto that he was inspired by Anders Breivik. So you know, we will see if this was a coordinated and well-planned attack and the threat from far right extremism exists across the country, the United Kingdom, but around the world as well. And that's why it's so important, you know, for here in Europe, where the casual demonization of minority communities of refugees, of immigrants, the rise of the far right in governments across the Europe, the rise of Trump in the United States has led to a moment where we, as you know, as human beings have to look at, you know, how can we bring people together? How can we stop this wanton abuse towards any particular community?
LU STOUT: So, you know, what can one do? I mean, the ideology of hatred, whether it's the ideology of the far right or the ideology of ISIS is so seductive and viral and can play a factor in mass murders like what happened today in Christchurch, what could be done to contain it?
SHAFIQ: I think we all just need to take a step back and look at our language and I urge -- I keep coming back to this point, President Trump and other political leaders in the United Kingdom, far right leaders across Europe, to just reflect on your language and when you dehumanize a whole community or you hold Muslims responsible for the actions of terrorist or sexual predators or you hold the Jewish community responsible for what the Israeli government is doing.
SHAFIQ: I mean, this sort of stereotyping and deeply offensive language towards any particular community has to be called out. And I hope that we can use this as an opportunity to bring communities together. LU STOUT: Absolutely, end the stereotyping, end the dehumanization to
bring communities together. Mohammed Shafiq, the Chief Executive of the Ramadan Foundation, thank you for joining me and take care.
SHAFIQ: Thank you.
LU STOUT: The Prime Minister of New Zealand, she spoke earlier condemning the attack as an assault on everything New Zealanders hold dear, here's part of what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER, NEW ZEALAND: Our thoughts and our prayers 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 a 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 him. That was a place that many came to, for in 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: The Prime Minister of New Zealand there. Now let's go live to Auckland, New Zealand and TVNZ's Anna Burns-Francis is standing by, and Anna, after that terrifying outburst of violence that took place 1:40 p.m. local time, we have been incrementally learning more about the investigation as well as a number of lives taken. What can you tell us?
ANNA BURNS-FRANCIS, REPORTER, TVNZ: Well, the latest update we received from the Chief of Police and the Police Commissioner here in Wellington, that's the capital of New Zealand just over an hour ago is that unfortunately, the death toll has continued to rise.
We now have a huge number of people who were killed at the one site of the first shooting, that's the Al Noor mosque. There were 41 people killed there. The gunman then moved on to the second mosque at Linwood that's where another seven people were killed, 40 people injured and all of those 40 people taken to hospital and treated for the injuries, one person did not survive.
We understand that children were also injured in this attack and we've heard from witnesses who say they saw people trying to run out of the mosque, trying to escape and they too were injured and appeared to have been shot in their backs. Obviously, some devastating scenes seen and witnessed by people across the city today with those two different shooting sites.
And then we find later on today that they were a number of bombs found in cars as well. So a number of different locations for police to now go back and investigate. We've also had it confirmed this evening that Christchurch Hospital has confirmed it was considered a secondary site, a secondary site attack. So that's why they went into lockdown this afternoon. They increased their police presence and police outside, security guards and all visitors and patients who were coming into the hospital this afternoon were turned away while they dealt with the afternoon's scare.
LU STOUT: Alarming to hear that new detail that you just said that the hospital Christchurch was considered a secondary target was on lockdown as a result earlier today. What is known about the security right now in Christchurch and across New Zealand? Is there a heightened sense of security? Is there a greater police presence out and about?
BURNS-FRANCIS: Absolutely. New Zealand would consider itself -- New Zealanders would consider their country a very safe country. And indeed our national security threat level set at low until around lunchtime today when this attack started in the early afternoon.
Since then, the Prime Minister has announced we're now on a high security threat level. That's a big change for New Zealanders. We're just not used to these sorts of incidents as being so close to home. It's unprecedented to see something of this scale and of this nature.
So there is a police presence increase on the streets of Christchurch tonight. Those are armed police. We have the SAE, it's the Defense Forces Senior Technical team in the city as well and the Defense Force have told us they're flying in on their planes extra police from around the country.
BURNS-FRANCIS: We also know that around the rest of New Zealand, mosques are being secured by police this evening. They've been told to tell their congregations not to come in and use the facilities, to shut the doors. But we understand people are still turning up to prayers tonight, despite the police presence and despite these increased risk and concerns around what may be another attack if that could happen.
LU STOUT: Anna, a quick question for you before we let you go. Was there any intelligence, any sign that the shootings we're going to take place earlier today?
BURNS-FRANCIS: At this stage, that is the most concerning aspect. The Prime Minister confirmed this afternoon that of the four people arrested, three of them taken into custody this evening, none were on a terror watch list in New Zealand. She wasn't so sure on the detail of whether they weren't on any watch list around the world. But as far as who knowledge went today, they were not on any watch
list and there was no indication of this attack and the preparation. The most concerning part is obviously that as the details unfolded this afternoon, we learned that the gunman had apparently prepared quite a manifesto to be released. There was the talk of the video that was prepared to be launched live as the attack was carried out. There were details left on message boards.
So there was a lot of planning that went into this attack and yet, there are still a lot of questions about how so much planning for such a carefully calculated attack tech could go unnoticed.
LU STOUT: Yes, a carefully calculated attack targeting the Muslim community mowing down dozens of people, 49 people dead as a result of targeting these two mosques earlier today in central Christchurch. Anna, we thank you for your reporting and take care.
In just a moment, we will continue our coverage of events in Christchurch. Dozens of people killed at two mosques in the city in New Zealand's worst ever mass shooting after the break.
LU STOUT: Welcome back. Now police in New Zealand say 49 people have been killed in Christchurch and scores are injured after shootings at two mosques. The Police Commissioner says a man in his 20s has been charged with murder and will appear in court Saturday morning.
Christchurch Hospital is treating dozens of people meanwhile with gunshot wounds. Anna Coren joins us now live and Anna, there is and we've been talking about this over the last hour with you, also with some guests on the program. There's this first person video of one of the shootings and it's been up on social media. Facebook has taken it down, but a lot of concern not just about the horror it reveals but the message of hate that it's been broadcasting to the world.
ANNA COREN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, this was produced by an Australian citizen, the gunman -- the main gunman who has been charged with mass murder. He had a camera attached to his helmet and he was streaming this live on Facebook. It is some of the most horrific footage that I have ever seen in my life.
COREN: It goes to some 17 minutes and he is cold. He is calm and extremely calculated in the way that he carries out this massacre and mind you, what we've seen is only have the first mosque. We haven't seen any video from the second attack, but it shows him driving to the mosque. He gets out, he picks up firearms, these semi-automatic weapons, he walks into the mosque through the gates, starts firing at people standing outside.
He walks through the front doors and just starts mowing people down in his path. You hear people screaming, you hear people moaning, crying out for help, and he just keeps shooting. This carries on for some minutes. He then walks out, walks out onto the pavement, and obviously by this time, people have been hearing this rapid gunfire something not heard of in in Christchurch, New Zealand and he starts picking off people standing on the pavement who've come out to witness what is going on.
He then walks back to his car. He gets more ammunition, walked back calmly into the mosque and continues shooting. There are people. There are bodies lying down on the ground. Dozens -- dozens of people and he walks up to those bodies at point blank range and fires at them.
So if any of these people had been playing dead or we're hoping to hide whilst this massacre occurred, they weren't getting out alive now. And that was just chilling to me. He then walks out of the mosque and continues firing at the pavement. He sees a woman, he shoots at her and then she's whimpering, "Help me. Help me." And he kills her.
He gets in his car drives off. He is firing outside of the windscreen, firing outside the passenger window. It is the behavior of somebody who was so clearly deranged. But so calm at the same time. And he is driving we presume, to the second mosque where he continued his killing spree, Kristie.
LU STOUT: The video shows the cold and calculated act of mass murder in a mosque and the targets were presumably Muslims who were there to worship. What can you tell us about the victims of this mass murder because the death toll is rising and a lot of concern about those who are seriously wounded.
COREN: Yes, that's right. So 49 dead. But there are dozens more who have been seriously injured. These are all gunshot wounds. And, and as we know that death toll could very well rise. The victims, well, there were men in these mosques. They were there with sons, with their children. Obviously, I spoke of that woman that that we saw in the video being murdered. So he was indiscriminate men, women, children, and we've heard from eyewitness accounts as well of him hunting down anybody in the mosque including children. So he didn't spare anybody.
This is somebody who wasn't on a watch list. He wasn't on any sort of watch list in New Zealand. He certainly wasn't on any sort of terror watch list in Australia. He and the two other people who've been arrested, they all flew under the radar as far as law enforcement and intelligence agencies were concerned.
LU STOUT: Horrific outburst of violence. Anna Coren reporting. Thank you. When we come back, we will hear from a man who witnessed part of a devastating attack./ More of our breaking news coverage straight ahead.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News. LU STOUT: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the attacks in
Christchurch, New Zealand. At least 49 people are dead and dozens seriously injured in what New Zealand's Prime Minister says is their country's darkest day. Attacks were launched on worshipers at two mosques in the city of Christchurch during Friday prayers. Young children are among the wounded.
Three individuals previously unknown to police and intelligence have been arrested in connection with the attack. One is charged with murder. The families have been waiting in agony for news of their loved ones. One mother says that she dropped her son off at the Al Noor mosque and went to park and then she heard gunshots, she saw people running.
BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSEMARY OMAR, WAITING FOR NEWS ABOUT HER SON: I drove past the mosque and there were a lot of bodies outside, so we've just been waiting here since just to see if our son is all right, but he's not answering his phone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've not heard anything from him?
OMAR: No contact at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the police or your son?
OMAR: No. I just feel quite deep, to be honest, quite numb. I don't know. I've just been sort of so absolutely leaden and I have gone sort of the other way, so yes, it's been really dreadful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: Police say the attacks were premeditated. They found improvised explosive devices attached to several vehicles that they stopped. One gunman was wearing a body cam and livestreamed the violence on social media. Police are imploring people to stop sharing the extremely distressing and graphic footage.
Matt Rivers is tracking developments. He joins me now and Matt, hours after the shootings broke out at 1:40 p.m. local time, taking the lives of up to 49 people, the death toll could rise even more. We continue to learn more about the violence and the investigation.
RIVERS: Yes, and we can expect to learn more over the next few hours and the next days and weeks to come. The investigation, Kristie, really just getting started. We know that these attacks were premeditated and you can expect police to delve deep into the history of the suspect and potentially more suspects that could appear in this case.
But let's walk everybody through what we know specifically so far, some of which you've mentioned already. Forty nine people dead so far, 41 of whom were killed at the Deans Avenue mosque, seven of whom were killed at a Linwood Avenue mosque; of the 40 people that are in the hospital, one of them has died already. And given the other numbers, the 39 people that remain in the hospital. That number could go up, Kristie and that's the sad reality at this point in the early hours after this horrific attack.
Now as far as any -- the suspects so far, one man has been taken into custody. He's in his late 20s, white male, is expected to appear in court tomorrow morning in New Zealand in Christchurch where he will face murder charges. The police have been very swift in charging that first suspect. Three other people were apprehended earlier today in the vicinity of where these attacks happened. All of whom had weapons on them and were in the vicinity of the attacks shortly after they happened.
One of those people has already been let go apparently with zero connection to what happened. Two others remain in custody as police try to determine what they were doing in that area with weapons when these attacks were happening.
As for the IEDs you mentioned, on one of the vehicles involved in this attack, police found two separate IEDs. As of the last time the Police Commissioner spoke, one of those had been deactivated already. Police were working on another one that was slightly different than the information we got earlier today from police which suggested that there were multiple vehicles with multiple IEDs.
Also, the Police Commissioner confirmed that none of the attackers were found with IEDs on their person, which was a bit of a point of confusion earlier today. The suspects that have been taken into custody so far, none of them were on police watch lists previously to this, but we do know that one of the suspects on a social media account posted earlier today what we're describing as a manifesto.
RIVERS: Eight-seven pages long, filled with anti-immigrant, anti- Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack. So there does seem to be premeditation here. The police are not identifying the person who is facing murder charges quite yet. CNN has not identifying that person either as of now, but no active search remains. The police say there's no active threat. Although they will remain vigilant, Kristie, throughout the night.
LU STOUT: Yes, no active threat, but they must remain vigilant. There was a lockdown that take place right after these attacks went down. A lockdown on schools, a locked in on the hospital. We know that the lockdown on schools has been lifted. But the situation with the mosques when you have that manifesto up there, when you have the video that was posted on social media. And even though Facebook took it down, it's been circulating out there, there must be a lot of concern about additional acts targeting the Muslim community.
RIVERS: There is. There is no other way around it. And that's why you have heard police in New Zealand tell people don't visit your mosques tonight. Even though that place of spirituality, that place of peace for many people that would worship in their mosques in times of distress. Police are saying don't go there because they could remain targets for other people, perhaps looking to carry out copycat attacks.
And even though police say there's no active threat, they're not looking for anyone else at this moment. They also quickly followed up that statement by saying they assume nothing. They take nothing for granted, and that they never know what might happen next. And so they're asking people look, stay home. Don't visit your friends. Don't visit mosques tonight. Stay home and be with your family. Talk to your friends over the phone, text message, whatever.
But for their own safety, they're urging people to remain vigilant tonight, stay home. Don't go to the mosque. And it's a shame because that's probably the place where a lot of people would want to be, and Kristie, one other note, it's not just New Zealand, you're going to have stepped up patrols according to public statements that CNN has received all across the world, including cities in the United States, Minneapolis, Los Angeles all over the world, the effects of this attack will reverberate.
LU STOUT: The death toll at the moment, it stands at 49. This has been called the worst mass shooting in the history of New Zealand, but looking at the number of those wounded and the nature of their wounds, the death toll could very much rise higher.
RIVERS: Absolutely, I mean and I think the scale of this attack, I mean, you know, we saw it in the video that went around, but it is the scale of this attack -- one man going around at least in that video that we saw shooting and killing that many people, it's hard to fathom and I think that that's what New Zealand is dealing with right now.
It's their worst mass shooting in history by far and it could only get worse because we don't know what kind of injuries the people inside the hospital have, but we know that they are serious, serious injuries and then that death toll could absolutely go up and that is the reality. It is the sad reality of these kinds of attacks that often those initial death toll numbers that first come out, they go higher because sometimes people will make it for a few hours and then succumb to their injuries.
So that's what New Zealand is going to have to keep bracing for over the next couple of hours and days is more people losing their lives and also more signs perhaps, what could have been missed, what chances could have been seen to stop an attack like this and maybe there weren't any, you know, but we won't know and it's that kind of bad news, Kristie, that might come out over the next couple days that really just adds insult to injury in things like this.
LU STOUT: And we don't know their names yet, we don't know their identities. This is a type of information that will be coming out in the hours and days ahead. Matt Rivers, thank you so much.
Now joining us now via Skype is Mohan Ibn Ibrahim who witnessed the shooting, sir, thank you for joining. My condolences to you and your loved ones. You witnessed this act of terror, but I want to ask you, how have you been affected by what happened today?
MOHAN IBN IBRAHIM, WITNESS TO MOSQUE SHOOTING (via Skype): I - actually, I inside the mosque. It is big mosque. I was in the front row, so when the shooter was shooting from the backside, he started shooting from the entrance, from the main gate.
And first time, I thought maybe it was sound of an electric short circuit maybe, and then it was like -- it kept continuously happening and then he was moving forward to get close to the mosque inside where there were lots of people who were inside, so -- when I saw the glass windows and the bricks were like broken and at that time, there entrance -- a lady's exit and entrance on the right side or right corner.
From there -- I was just running out, lots of people who were like inside and some of us like on the right side people, they were running out to us, to the backyard ...
IBRAHIM: ... where we had all the cars parking and then we had to run out from that to climb a wall, which was the barricade of the whole mosque area. So which was around 600 to 700 millimeter distance from the main mosque to the backyard.
So we had -- I had to run and then while we went out, we -- I was jumping out of the wall, and then I stayed there in a house and still we were listening, the gunfire, a loud sound which was continuously happening for 10 to 15 minutes. And after that, I came to the office straight which is -- which was completely opposite side the backside of the mosque.
From then, I was running towards the main road which was -- the mosque was situated on the main road and by then the police and ambulances came, so I was getting through there and I made a Facebook Live at that time, I was a bit far away from the mosque, so I saw one person who was injured who got shot like on his chest and that time the police was there and I think his relatives or his son would be the one person who was taking care of them and the ambulances came.
And by then the shooter was able to -- because there was a video that was released that what I saw later on that he was continuously shooting and he came out and then he reloaded his gun and then he went again inside should again and then he came back and that time he was putting everything on his car and then he was running towards another mosque.
So there were two mosques at the same time they were shooting.
LU STOUT: You described the shooter was continuously shooting. You had to literally run for your life to escape the mosques to get to the wall to leave and get to safety, quickly which mosque where you at?
IBRAHIM: I was in the big mosque which is the Al Noor, which was situated on the Deans Avenue, the big one.
LU STOUT: The Noor mosque, and you saw the shooter. Can you describe the shooter? IBRHAHIM: No, I didn't see him. I didn't see him because he was on
the backside. He was on the backside. So he was coming from the main entrance, so how it happens like from the main entrance, I was inside the most, so from main entrance to come to the mosque, it takes a few seconds.
He started shooting for the main gate, so there was a like -- it was -- the mosque was in the main road from the main gate, he was shooting and he was coming inside getting closer and getting inside and there was (inaudible), he was getting inside, and that he was shooting, so the time we first heard the sound of shooting, that time we just run away from the mosque.
LU STOUT: Yes, you were able to hear the shooter. You were able to hear the gunshots. Did you hear the shooter speak or say anything at all?
IBRAHIM: No, no, no. I was just -- I just heard the shooter a loud sound of the shooter, like you know when he was just shooting around, but so when I was when I was like, you know able to jump out of the wall, which is maybe as I say like 700 to 800 millimeter distance. So it's still you can hear the sound of the shooting. He was continuously shooting here and they're everywhere.
So there was a windows -- glass windows breaks everywhere.
LU STOUT: In the mosque, were you there with fellow worshippers who you know who you call your friends?
IBRAHIM: Yes, I was -- I was in the mosque and one of my friend he was is -- so when he was getting inside the mosque, first, entrance on the left side. There's a washroom, people get and go there, one of my friend he was stuck in the wash room. He didn't come out.
And from there -- so later on, when he came out and the police went there. Police rescued him and then we -- and then we saw him on the street and another friend was at the same area that same place where I was sitting and he did the same thing what I did, like we were running towards for the backside.
LU STOUT: How are you feeling right now? The police --
IBRAHIM: Yes, completely shaking honestly.
LU STOUT: The authorities there -- yes, I mean, of course. But you know -- what will it take for you to feel safe again in New Zealand?
IBRAHIM: I don't see -- I am actually here, it's been five years like I always wanted to come here because I consider this country as the safest country. I feel like -- now, I'm so scared actually. You know, I don't know because in front of my eyes I saw the people who are like dying.
IBRAHIM: And it's a special prayer on a Friday. Lots of people gather together. It's more than 200 people.
LU STOUT: I was speaking to someone else earlier in the program and he said that he feared that the motive of this attack as an act of terror was to incite violence, was to create more violence, how do we get the violence to stop?
IBRAHIM: I don't know. I don't know actually. I never thought of seeing anything like that. I never felt like you know something I have to face. Randomly, I don't know how the terrorist came and then he started shooting. It's totally -- I cannot recall. I am so scared at this moment to like you know, living in the same area it's not that distance from the mosque to my place, so I don't know. I am so speechless that I cannot lay down. I have been like shaking.
LU STOUT: Yes, there were two mosques attacked today. Did you have friends and family who were worshipping at the other mosque or are there friends that you haven't heard back from yet?
IBRAHIM: One of the old community uncle was there so his wife was -- died on the spot, but we heard later on, there was two community friends who are injured badly in the hospital at this moment. But in the other mosque, I didn't have anybody from my community who were like killed or injured. So they are safe.
LU STOUT: You know, this is such a senseless act of violence. And on such a scale, 49 people have been killed so many people critically wounded, including children. We are still waiting to get updates on their condition. How do you cope with being a target of such violence and have such violent attack and target your community -- the Muslim community?
IBRAHIM: I don't know like, I said, again I am saying like it's -- I don't have any idea about that. But I would like to say that one of the safest country, Muslims that are here, I never had any issues, never seen anything. I have been living here for five years. Suddenly, today, I can just recall what I have seen on my eyes and what I just saw the people who are like dying and injured.
So I don't know where else would be the safest to be you know, living.
LU STOUT: Mohan, prayers to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story of survival and for surviving terror with us. Thank you for joining us, sir. And take care.
IBRAHIM: Thank you so much.
LU STOUT: You're watching CNN Newsroom and as images purporting to be the shootings, this horrific event, the shootings from Christchurch circulate online, we're going to talk about social media responsibility and about how these companies, these platforms are responding, how they should respond when we come back.
[05:55:07] LU STOUT: Welcome back, as we've been reporting, CNN has chosen not
to air a horrific video that's out there of the Christchurch attack, a first person video of the attack that was livestreamed on Facebook. And it's raised a lot of questions about Facebook and what other social media firms can do to stop it from spreading. Samuel Burke joins us now from London and Samuel, why was this allowed to happen? What is Facebook saying about this?
SAMUEL BURKE, BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, of course, livestreaming happens live, so it goes out immediately. So there is nobody there to stop it in those initial seconds.
Now, once the video is live, you can report it. But then it has to go through a process while the original video has come down that was broadcast by the attacker, it would be incorrect to say that social media companies have taken these videos down because unfortunately, Kristie, as we go looking on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, we still see this video up.
But I really want to caution people not to look for this video. While some might say don't share the video, even looking at this video online will cause the algorithms to move it up higher so that more people will see this and every security expert you talked to who looks at radicalization online said that this is the worst possible thing because then so many more people will see this.
I just want to put up on the screen for your viewers to see, Kristie, a screenshot from Facebook, which shows that even at times, this video is still up right now to be seen with a content block that says this video may show violence or graphic content. One of the major issues here is that even if a video is hashed, that means the algorithm see it, the people at Facebook might see it and say, "Okay, any more instances of this video, let's take it down." Unfortunately, some news organizations have decided to broadcast that video, the most gruesome parts of this video, then people take that video and put it up online. And the algorithms become confused.
They say, "Well, this is a news organization. Here's a news logo. Here are news banners." And so it becomes in the algorithms mind, newsworthy and so it doesn't get taken down as quickly as it should be. So unfortunately, we're seeing this across so many platforms right now.
I do just want to put up what Facebook is saying in response to this because of course, this did originate on Facebook, the social network saying, "Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this horrendous attack. New Zealand police alerted us to a video on Facebook. Shortly after the livestreaming commenced and quickly removed both the shooters Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video. We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters. As soon as we're aware, we will continue working directly with New Zealand police as their response and investigation continues."
So I just want to point out one thing they say, they quickly took it down. We're not clear and Facebook hasn't answered our questions whether they quickly took it down as it was happening or after it happened. Either which way, this video is still up there. But we really do encourage people not to share it, not to look at it because then you become part of the problem of the radicalization online.
LU STOUT: Absolutely. And that's the reason why we have made the decision on CNN not to air this video. It is graphic. It can scar the minds of anyone who watches it. And as we've been hearing from terror analysts throughout the day, it can inspire copycat incidents and we do not need more violence after the events earlier today. Samuel Burke, we appreciate your reporting Thank you so much.
Please keep watching CNN for additional updates on the unprecedented outbreak of violence that took place today in Christchurch, New Zealand, 49 people dead as a result of to mass shootings targeting mosques in the central part of the city. You're watching CNN.
LU STOUT: New Zealand is reeling from the worst mass shooting in its history after attacks were launched at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. At least 49 people died, 20 are seriously wounded. Police say a man in his 20s has been charged with murder and will appear in court Saturday morning. Two other people are in custody in connection with the attacks. We know one suspect is an Australia. Another person was arrested nearby, but does not seem to be linked to the attacks. That's according to the police in New Zealand.
I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong and do stay with us for more breaking news coverage from Christchurch, New Zealand on "New Day" coming up next here on CNN.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is "New Day." It is Friday, March 15th, six o'clock here in New York and breaking overnight, a horrific terror attack, a despicable act of hate, a mass murder in two houses of worship. At least 49 people are dead, dozens have been injured in mass shootings into mosques in New Zealand.
It has happened in the city of Christchurch on the South Island as Muslims were gathering for Friday prayers. The details are developing, some are murky at this hour. We know that one person has been charged with murder, three other people are in custody.