Friday, March 15th, in Christchurch, New Zealand, a 28-year-old Australian man opened fire in the small neighborhood Al Noor mosque during afternoon prayers, murdering 43. He then drove to a second location, the Linwood Islamic Centre, where he murdered 7 more. There were an additional 50 wounded.
The murderer live streamed 17 minutes of his attack over Facebook, the camera positioned to his head, giving a video-game like 1st person shooter view.
There are many who are not interested in viewing the video, so I have detailed the events of it here. I have not frozen every frame or spent days analyzing it, so some minor details may be off or missing. For that I apologize. My time has been limited, thus far.
I have provided screen captures from the video to provide proper context to my print descriptions.
There is 4-5 minutes of driving to the site. At 1:10 into his drive, he begins playing the song ‘Serbia Strong!’ over his cars sound system.
The attacker parks his car in a side alley where he calmly announces to Facebook “Let’s get this party started.” The music playing at this point is the John Williams composition ‘The British Grenadiers’, from the Empire of The Sun soundtrack.
He exits the vehicle wearing a “tactical” vest with spare magazines and a slung an EOTech-type equipped, AR-style rifle. The rifle is fitted with a thumb hole stock and iron sights are absent. Walking to the rear of the car, he retrieves an auto-loading shotgun with a mounted red dot from the trunk. There is a second AR-style rifle laying in the trunk, as well.
All three long guns and all magazines have been “decorated” with words, numbers, and short phrases written in white paint.
Leaving the trunk lid open, he walks from his car around the front of the fenced mosque property, and continues down the sidewalk past two Islamic bystanders who watch him go by. They say nothing, they do nothing.
Passing through the front gate and parking lot with no resistance, he marches straight to the open front door. His first 3 victims are standing in the doorway/foyer area – he immediately empties his shotgun (9 rounds) into them before he even crossed the threshold. This takes approximately four seconds.
Shotgun dry, he tosses it down and transitions to his rifle, which takes approximately 2.5 seconds.
One of the initial 3 victims was attempting to crawl down the foyer hallway, and was struck with multiple 5.56 rounds, a little over 5 seconds after the last shotgun round was fired.
The murderer, through a doorway in the hall, engages a victim across a side room who is attempting to flee out a side door. We don’t see him go down – I can’t imagine how he was not hit.
An additional victim is shot in the hallway multiple times.
The VCA then enters the musalla, or “prayer room”- It’s about the size of a grade school classroom – and is greeted with two groups of people cowering in separate corners. Standing just inside the entrance, he rapid fires at one group, then the other, as quickly as he can run the trigger and acquire his dot. It’s a slaughter with zero resistance.
One victim attempts to run past him to escape, but is shot multiple times at contact distance, and again once on the floor as the VCA walks back to the halfway point in the hallway.
He reloads the rifle, dumping to the ground a twin “jungle style” magazine in a side-by-side configuration, replacing it with a second side-by-side set. It also appears that at some point during the close contact with the last victim, his mounted light is switched on in strobe function.
Once re-loaded, he double-times back down the hallway and reengages both cowering groups till his rifle runs dry – approximately 9 seconds.
At some point during that string his light falls off his rifle and is now on the deck flashing.
Rushing back into the hallway, he jettisons the second set of magazines and picks up the first set he dropped. He checks it for rounds, re-inserts it, presses the bolt release, and runs back into the prayer room.
He then empties that magazine into both groups. However, after 20-23 rounds he experiences some sort of stoppage.
Standing in the middle of the musalla, he pops the jungle mags out, checks them, and tries to reinsert – it’s hard to tell if he had trouble inserting the mag or he just decided to look for a stoppage thus not completing the insertion. He turns his rifle sideways to inspect the ejection port, sees a problem, goes muzzle up, and while holding his magazines, runs the charging handle with his support hand, clearing the problem. A live round appears to fall out. He reinserts a mag, tries to hit the bolt release with his thumb, but the bolt is already forward. He senses that it didn’t work and runs the charging handle with his right hand.
The entire stoppage takes him 18-seconds to clear before his next shot is fired.
He begins firing again at one of the piles of victims, finishing off the magazine. Approximately 10-rounds. Bolt locks back, he swaps the double magazine around, presses the release with his support thumb, and from the prayer room, immediately engages a person attempting to run out the front door, firing 3 rounds down the length of the hallway. That target gone, he swings over and engages bodies in the other corner of the room, firing 8 rounds of well-aimed slow fire at the heads of his victims.
Switching back and moving to the other corner of the room, he attempts to fire but the gun is dry. Without a hesitation he changes direction and runs back down the hallway towards the entrance, stopping half way to retrieve the other double mag he dropped earlier. With rounds still in one of the mags, he reloads and runs out the front door. He pauses and takes aim at something in the parking lot but does not fire. He sprints to the front gate, stops on the front sidewalk in front of it, and fires approximately 27 rounds down the sidewalk at an unseen target. He spins around, fires down the sidewalk in the other direction, 3-rounds to bolt lock.
He drops the mag(s) and begins running down the sidewalk to the alley where his car is, checking his vest for more mags while on the move.
Out of ammo and back at his car, he realizes he’s out of ammo and murmurs, “oh, shit.” He detaches the rifle and sling and allows it to drop to the ground, immediately snatching up the second AR from his trunk.
This rifle is equipped with a thumb-hole style stock, iron sights, no sling, and a red dot that occupies about the same amount of space as an Aimpoint Pro, but is probably a cheaper knock-off of something. [I’m sure someone reading knows what it is, I haven’t bothered to identify it.]
The song on the car stereo at this time is ‘Anthem’ by Pol.
He murmurs, “son of a bitch”, as he pulls momentarily at a black bag in his trunk. Leaving that, he reaches for one of two red gas cans, grabs it, but decides to forgo the idea and sets it back in the trunk.
He takes off running through the alley, back out onto the sidewalk. Stopping, he brings his sight up to his left, looking for a shot. Without a target, he turns to his right and runs down the sidewalk back towards the mosque gate he first entered through. He runs past it and continues down the sidewalk to the second parking lot gate.
Standing on the sidewalk, he fires 11 shots into the parking lot through the second gate. He turns to his right and scans down the sidewalk, following it up with a scan down the sidewalk to his left.
At this point he calmly says to the Facebook audience, “Looks like we won’t get to burn today, boys.”
We can assume from that statement his intent was to use the gas cans to burn the mosque down.
He then sends 5 more rounds through the gate into the parking lot, his intended target is not obvious.
He runs through the second gate and makes his way back through the front door of the building, down the hallway, and fires extra rounds into about 70% of the victims, two of which were still alive as they were audibly moaning. He finishes his first mag off, reloads with the second, and fires 9 rounds out of it.
His flashlight is still on the floor, strobe flashing.
He sprints down the hallway and out of the building, stopping a few steps outside when, through the front fence bars, he sees a man and a burka clad woman walking on the sidewalk. He fires two shots at them, then sprints out the front gate towards their positions.
As the man is running away, two shots are fired at him, no indication of his being hit. The woman is laying wounded in the street, parallel up against the curb right in front of the alley where he’s parked. While she cries for help, the VCA fires two rounds into her head.
He double times back to his car and slams the trunk lid shut. The stereo in his car is playing “Fire” by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. The song, as some may remember, begins with the singer screaming the line “I am the God of Hellfire, and I bring you…”
He then jumps in his car, rifle is muzzle down between his body and the door. There are three more long guns on the passenger side of the car. They appear to be two bolt guns and a pump shotgun.
He runs over the woman in the street as he exits the alley, although the car does not show any reaction to it, nor does he.
Now moving, he checks his windshield mounted Navigation/GPS, laughs and says, “that didn’t go as planned.”
Not on the road for 30-seconds, he sees people he considers targets moving around a parked van. He stops in the street, grabs the pump shotgun next to him, and fires two rounds through his front windshield. The second run of the action binds up on the empty shell hull, he clears it out with his right hand. Puts the car back in drive, moves about 50-feet, and fires again through his windshield.
He moves another 100 feet and attempts to fire through his side window at an Islamic man walking away from his position. The gun goes “click.” He runs the action, and fires. His side glass blows out, he runs the action, attempts to fire again, but gets another “click.” No sign of his intended victim.
He accelerates through traffic, shotgun in his left hand.
He stops at an intersection where two non-Muslim women are in the crosswalk. Just as they are about through it he lays on the horn, forcing them to jump on the sidewalk as he races back into traffic.
While driving, he calmly states that he should have stayed longer, as “there was time for the fuel. I was going to burn that fucking mosque to the ground. But, shit happens.” So far we have heard no sirens or seen any sign of police.
He then says:
“I left one full magazine back there I know for sure. Possibly more.
I had to run along in the middle of the firefight and pick up the mag that fell out pretty much fucking instantly. There wasn’t even any time to aim due to so many targets. There were so many people…the car park was full. So there’s no real chance…”
At this point a police car passes him in traffic going the opposite direction, the siren making the rest of his sentence hard to hear. Approximately 10 minutes elapsed since the first shot was fired.
The song now playing in the car is ‘Gas Gas Gas’ by Manuel.
He speeds up a weaves through traffic, and makes a comment about how only the men were there, and maybe the women show up later.
He’s not out of breath. He exhibits no signs of being shaken. He seems to be in full control of his actions.
The video ends at 16:56, he’s still in traffic, driving.
As reported, he moved to a second location, the Linwood Islamic Centre, where he murdered an additional 7, but was finally stopped by two men who set chase when he ran out of ammunition. He was able to escape in his own vehicle, but was eventually apprehended by police nearby – The details of which I have yet to find.
Total time of his rampage was approximately 30-minutes.
No one on the either of the mosque grounds, that we know of, were armed with firearms.
I’ll have a follow up with “Lessons” shortly.