Christchurch shooting: Gunman Tarrant wanted to kill ‘as many as possible’

Wellington – The man who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019 had plans to target a third mosque, his sentencing hearing heard.

Brenton Tarrant also planned to burn down the mosques, wanting to “inflict as many fatalities as possible”.

The Australian gunman has pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 attempted murders and one charge of terrorism.

29-year-old Tarrant faces life in prison, possibly without parole – a sentence never before imposed in New Zealand. He was confronted by survivors and relatives of the victims on Monday.

“You gave yourself the authority to take the souls of 51 innocent people, their only crime – in your eyes – being Muslims,” said Maysoon Salama, whose son Atta Elayyan was killed.

“You transgress beyond comprehension, I cannot forgive you.”

The attacks, parts of which the gunman streamed live online, saw Tarrant open fire at two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March last year.

The court was told how Tarrant had began formulating a plan years earlier, and his goal was to “inflict as many fatalities as possible”. He is said to have gathered information about mosques in New Zealand – studying floor plans, locations and further details – with the aim of targeting them at the time they would be busiest.

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