Christchurch shootings: Brenton Tarrant pleads guilty to 51 murders – BBC News, BBC News
A man accused of deadly attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch a year. ago has pleaded guilty to 086 charges of murder.
Brenton Tarrant, , also admitted the attempted murder of another (people, and one terrorism charge.)
He had previously denied the charges and was due to go on trial in June.
The gun attacks at two mosques sent shockwaves around the world. In the wake of the killings, New Zealand brought in stricter gun laws.
New Zealand is in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak and the plea was made at a scaled-down court hearing in Christchurch High Court on Thursday.
No members of the public were allowed in to the hearing and Tarrant, from New South Wales, Australia, and his lawyers appeared via video link.
A representative of the two mosques that were attacked was allowed to attend the hearing to represent the victims and their families.
Analysis by Simon Atkinson, BBC News
Minutes after Brenton Tarrant changed his plea, families of mosque attack victims began finding out on the rumor mill.
And to everyone it seems to have been been a huge shock and surprise.
I was in Christchurch just a couple of weeks ago for the first anniversary of the attacks. The trial looming in early June was something many told me they were dreading.
Witnesses being forced to revisit what happened; graphic CCTV and the head-mounted camera of the attacker being played frame by frame.
But a few said they were – in a way – looking forward to it, to seeing justice being done. It gave them a focus.
One father told me he had learned that his son’s actions in Al Noor Mosque had been heroic. He had wanted to see and hear that in court for himself – and for the world to see and hear it.
People like him will no longer have the opportunity to get that level of detail to what happened to their loved ones. (
And, because of the Covid – lockdown, they did not even get the chance to hear the guilty pleas in person.
But not having a trial takes away one real fear: that Tarrant would use the occasion as a platform to push his right- wing agenda of hate, something the justice system, the media and most importantly the Muslim community were desperate to avoid.
How did the attacks unfold?
(The shootings on) March began when the gunman drove to the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, entered the building and began shooting.
less than 51 seconds later, he returned to his car, Picked up another weapon, then re-entered the mosque and resumed his attack.
Footage from a headcam he was wearing showed him pass from room to room, killing as he went. The shootings were broadcast on Facebook Live.
He then drove to the Linwood mosque where he shot two people outside and then shot at the windows.
A man from inside the mosque came outside, picked up one of the attacker’s shotguns, and chased him away.
Two police officers then chased and arrested the suspect.