A violent extremest took out a terrorist attack, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“This was a violent attack, it was senseless on innocent New Zealanders,” she said.
Ardern said the attack was undertaken by an individual who was a known threat.
The man was under constant monitoring. He was shot and killed within 60 seconds.
“I want to acknowledge the six New Zealanders injured.” Three were serious, Ardern said.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said the man was “closely watched by surveillance teams and a tactical team” as he travelled from his home in Glen Eden to Countdown in New Lynn.
He obtained a knife from within the store.
Coster said the man was under surveillance because of his extremist beliefs.
“I know this situation raises questions about whether the Police could have done more,” Coster said.
“The reality is when you are surveilling someone on a 24 hour basis it is not possible to be immediately next to them,” Coster said.
“The Terrorist is a Sri Lankan national who arrived in 2011,” said Ardern
Much information about him is covered by court suppression orders, she said.
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The became a person of interest in 2016.
“We have utilised every legal and surveillance power available to us to keep people safe from this individual,” Ardern said.
There will be multiple inquiries, Ardern said including from the IPCA and the coroner.
“What happened today was despicable, it was hateful it was wrong”
“It was carried out by an individual, not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity, but an individual person who is gripped by an ideology that is not supported here by anyone.”
Ardern said she intended to wait for the reports to release any information she could.
“He alone carries the responsibility for these acts. Let that be where the judgment falls,” Ardern said.
The man was fatally shot by police officers and several shoppers are understood to have suffered life-threatening injuries in horrific scenes at a West Auckland supermarket this afternoon.
Four people have been injured – three critically. They include people believed to have been attacked in the New Lynn mall Countdown. Their assailant was then fatally gunned down by police.
Three critical patients, and another in a serious condition, have been taken to Auckland City Hospital. One person in a moderate condition is at Waitākere Hospital, and another in a moderate condition is at Middlemore Hospital.
“As the commissioner has said there was nothing to indicate that what he did today was going to happen today,” Ardern said.
Ardern had been advised that she cannot share the timeline of the man’s interaction with the state – including whether he had recently been released from prison.
Asked why six people were able to be injured before he was shot if he was under surveillance, Coster said the man was very “surveillance conscious” and police had to keep some distance from him to make surveillance effective.
The Herald understands at least one person suffered a stab wound.
A brave bystander at the mall helped a wounded woman who had been stabbed in her right hip.
Asked again why somebody who was deemed a threat to national security was allowed in the community, Coster said police had done as much as they were able under the law.
“That would be wrong, that would be absolutely wrong – the community here has been nothing but supportive,” Ardern said regarding the possibility of a backlash.
“A violent ideology and Isis-inspired,” Ardern said.
Ardern was confident he was a lone wolf.
As people scrambled to evacuate others yelled “he’s got a gun” and the injured woman got up and fled the scene.
The witness says the adrenaline was still pumping after the horrific attack.
Auckland City Hospital has multiple operating theatres running to treat the injured – who have suffered chest and neck wounds. Two major abdominal cavity surgeries are under way, the Herald has been told.
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