As the death toll from the mass shootings that occurred at two New Zealand mosques on Friday reached 50, survivors have continued to narrate the details of how they survived the attack.
A self-acclaimed white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant, who was heavily armed walked into Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch on Friday, March 15, shooting at several worshippers, including children.
Alabi Lateef Zirullah, a Nigerian Imam who was one of the survivors of the attack, told New Zealand Herald that he was the first to see the gunman and stood up to him to prevent the loss of more lives.
Alabi, an Imam at Linwood Mosque, said he was ready to die to defend the worshippers in his Mosque when Tarrant attacked the place of worship on Friday.
“The incident happened in such a way that I’m the first person who sighted the guy. I can’t believe it, I thought I would be gone. Anyway, I was ready to die because I felt for the brothers. Myself and one other brother, AbdulAziz, we put ourselves forward.
“I’m the first person who sighted him when he started shooting. He shot two couples, he shot them dead just right in front of the masjid when they peeked through the window.
“Then I realised what this is now; a case of a criminal, that’s what I thought in the beginning. When I saw those Muslims shot dead, I told our brothers, ‘Go down! Go down! Somebody has just shot our brothers outside the masjid.
“No one listened to me until he unfortunately came from behind and shot one of our brothers in the head through the window, he saw him standing and shot him. So when the glass got broken and the brother fell down, everybody realised,” he said.
Alabi, who had previously talked about how AbdulAziz, his fellow worshipper, chased Tarrant by picking up a disposed machine gun and smashing it on his car window while the attacker was trying to retrieve more weapons.
“He (AbdulAziz) went after him, and that’s how we were saved. Otherwise, if he managed to come into the mosque, then we would all probably be gone,” Alabi told Sky News.
Tarrant reportedly drove off after he was chased by Abdul Aziz and was arrested by security operatives few minutes later.
While also speaking to New Zealand Herald, Gamal Fouda, an Imam at Al Noor Mosque, said the attack has traumatised him so much he hasn’t been able to get much sleep since the incident happened.
“He was shooting people and we were hiding and couldn’t even breathe from the smoke and bullets flying everywhere,” he said.
At least 50 people were also reported injured in the attack with 34 of them still hospitalised and 12 in critical condition as at Sunday, March 17.
Tarrant, who is considered the lone suspect, has already been charged to court with one count of murder and has been remanded in custody without a plea.
He is due in court again on April 5 with more charges expected to be filed against him.
The 28-year-old Australian had livestreamed his attack at Al Noor Mosque, where he killed at least 40 people, before he moved on to Linwood Mosque where he continued his violent attack before he was caught by authorities.
Additional reports from AFP