The white supremacist mass shooter who murdered 49 worshippers at a mosque in New Zealand has been identified as a 28-year-old Australian who seemingly spent up to seven years travelling the world and became obsessed with far-right and Neo-Nazi ideology.
Brenton Tarrant will appear in Christchurch District Court charged with murder on Saturday, after he stormed a mosque in Christchurch, opening fire with a semi-automatic shotgun and a rifle on about 100 defenceless people attending Friday prayers.
He live-streamed the shootings in a horrifying 17-minute video posted on Facebook.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed on Twitter that the death toll stands at 49, with 42 injured. Two of those injured are in a critical condition, including a four-year-old who is being transported from Christchurch to the country’s specialist children’s hospital Starship in Auckland.
Two others remain in custody, and police are still trying to ‘build a picture of any of the individuals involved and all of their activities prior to this horrific event’.
Mr Bush added: ‘There is no guarantee the risk is limited to Canterbury and we need all New Zealanders to be extra vigilant.
‘Police is aware there are distressing materials related to this event circulating widely online. We would urge anyone who has been affected by seeing these materials to seek appropriate support.’
He said there will be a heightened police presence at community events on Saturday ‘for safety and reassurance’.
Details of the terrorist’s background are emerging, including his upbringing in the rural New South Wales town of Grafton which he left shortly after his father Rodney died of cancer when Tarrant was in his early 20s.
He seems to have spent up to seven years travelling the world from 2011 onwards, and one woman who knew him before he left Grafton speculated to Daily Mail Australia that ‘something happened to him’ during this time. She also recognised him as being the man in the massacre video.
Tarrant claimed in a so-called ‘manifesto’ to have made money trading Bitcoin, enabling him to travel the world. He also spoke of visiting a wide range of countries including Pakistan, and a photograph showed him on a tourist trip to North Korea.
A picture posted on social media by a Pakistani hotel manager in 2018 appears to show him in the country during his time abroad.
But at some point he seems to have become obsessed with terrorist attacks that happened in Europe between 2016 and 2017. His ranting manifesto is filled with Neo-Nazi ideology and hatred for Muslim people
One woman who knew Tarrant before he left Grafton said he worked as a personal trainer who was obsessed with fitness but seemed like a well-adjusted young man.
In a twisted manifesto that he posted online before the massacre, Tarrant described himself as an ‘ordinary, white man’, who was born into a working class, low income family of Scottish, Irish and English decent.
He said in the document he had ‘no interest’ in attending university after leaving school. His father died of cancer when he was in his early 20s, and he left Australia to travel the world shortly afterwards.
Prosecutors in Bulgaria have launched a probe into Tarrant’s recent visit to the country. He visited Bulgaria from November 9-15 last year claiming he wanted ‘to visit historical sites and study the history of the Balkan country’, according to Bulgaria’s public prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov.
Tsatsarov said he hoped the inquiry would establish if this was ‘correct or if he had other objectives’.
Tarrant’s father, Rodney, who was a competitive athlete, died of cancer in 2010 aged just 49 and his mother and sister are rumoured to still live in the area.
While it remains unclear whether any of his relatives – including his mother – still live in the area, the family is very well known in the region.
The gunman wrote that he had ‘little interest in education’ growing up, and did not attend university as he had no great interest in anything offered at the schools.
He claimed he made some money investing in Bitconnect – a type of digital currency – before he then used the money to travel overseas.
Tarrant, who would later go on to become a personal trainer, inherited a love of physical fitness from his father, who reportedly died of an asbestos-related illness.
A woman who claims to have previously known Tarrant through the gym, confirmed it was him in the live stream.
She told Daily Mail Australia that he followed a strict dietary and exercise regime and worked at the gym after he finished school.