Mourners place flowers as they pay their respects at a makeshift memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, March 16, 2019. New Zealand's stricken residents reached out to Muslims in their neighborhoods and around the country on Saturday, in a fierce determination to show kindness to a community in pain as a 28-year-old white supremacist stood silently before a judge, accused in mass shootings at two mosques that left dozens of people dead.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Cape Town - Accused Christchurch massacre gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant smiled as he made a white power gesture in the dock as he was charged with murder.

Tarrant, 28, originally from Grafton, New South Wales, Australia, but more recently a resident of Dunedin, 360km from Christchurch, had his hands chained to his waist. Police allege that after opening fire in the Al Noor mosque, Tarrant drove to the Linwood Masjid mosque across town and continued his rampage.

Daniel John Burrough, 18, has been charged with “exciting hostility or ill-will” in relation to the mosque attacks but he did not appear in court.

Police arrested three men - including Tarrant and Burrough - and a woman following Friday’s attack. The unnamed woman remains in custody, while the third man was not linked to the attacks and has been released.

None of those arrested had a criminal history or were on watch lists in New Zealand or Australia.

A member of the public tried to storm the court to “knife” Tarrant before proceedings began, as citizens were barred from attending.

So far 49 people have been confirmed dead.Tarrant has been described as a suspected white supremacist, based on his social media activity. Footage of the attack at Al Noor mosque was broadcast live on Facebook, and a “manifesto” denouncing immigrants as “invaders” was posted online via links to related social media accounts.

The video showed a man driving to the Al Noor mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people with a semi-automatic rifle with high-capacity magazines. Worshippers, possibly dead or wounded, lay on the floor, the video showed.

At one stage the shooter returns to his car, changes weapons, re-enters the mosque and again begins shooting. The camera attached to his head recording the massacre follows the barrel of his weapon, like some macabre video game. Forty-one people were killed at the Al Noor mosque.

Seven people were killed at the Linwood mosque. No images have emerged from the attack there.

Tarrant was arrested in a car, which police said was carrying improvised explosive devices, 36 minutes after they were first called. “There were two other firearms in the vehicle... and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who labelled the attacks as terrorism, said yesterday. The visiting Bangladesh cricket team was arriving for prayers at one of the mosques when the shooting started but all members were safe, a team coach said. Twelve operating theatres worked through the night on the more than 40 people wounded, said hospital authorities.

Thirty-six people were still being treated yesterday, 11 of whom remained in intensive care. One victim died in hospital. The majority of victims were migrants or refugees from countries including Pakistan, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Muslims account for just over 1% of New Zealand’s population. 

Weekend Argus