A gunman — now identified as Brenton Tarrant — has massacred unarmed people in a mosque in Christchurch’s Hagley Park (New Zealand), and the gruesome events were livestreamed on Facebook by the shooter himself.
Early reports suggest that at least six people have been shot, but the livestream of the incident — copies of which quickly spread to filesharing websites like Mega.nz, AnonFile (kiwifarms mirror), and Zippyshare — show dozens of casualties within and around the mosque. (New reports now back this up, saying at least 40 dead: see bottom of article for updates.)
The mass shooter advertised the livestream, as well as a manifesto titled “The Great Replacement,” to 8chan, a laissez-faire imageboard that is frequently in the news over various drama.
Independent journalist Nick Monroe discovered the attacker’s Twitter account at @BrentonTarrant (now suspended — archive.org, archive.fo), where he posted images of the firearms and gear used in the attack. His guns and ammo magazines are covered in the names of the victims of terror attacks in the West.
The entire sequence of events in the Facebook livestream plays out in first-person, leading observers on Twitter and elsewhere to draw comparisons to the infamous Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 “No Russian” mission.
Prior to going on the shooting spree, Tarrant made a number of meme references, including “subscribe to PewDiePie” and playing a Serbian military song from the ‘90s called “Remove Kebab” popularized by alt-right YouTubers. PewDiePie critics on social media have taken to blaming the popular YouTuber for the attack, wrongfully stating that the shooter shouted “subscribe to PewDiePie” before immediately opening fire, when in fact he only did so while in his vehicle, not immediately before the attack.
— Nick Monroe (@nickmon1112) March 15, 2019
Facing no armed resistance whatsoever, Tarrant conducted his shooting spree with relative ease, firing his way into the mosque with a shotgun where he gunned down several people in the corridor before switching to an AR-15, mowing down dozens more.
Tarrant then makes his way outside and fires upon passersby who can be seen wearing Muslim religious garb. A woman, whom he wounds, can be heard and seen screaming for help before he ends her life.
Tarrant picks up another AR-15 from his vehicle as well as several more magazines, before heading back into the mosque. Red cans of gasoline can be seen sitting in the trunk of the vehicle alongside spare firearms and ammunition.
Tarrant unloads his newly-equipped AR-15 into badly wounded survivors in the main hall, but ignores various locked rooms where muffled voices can be heard panicking before he makes his way back to the vehicle. He fires at a number of pedestrians but it is unclear whether he wounded or killed anyone else.
The shooter drives away from the scene of carnage with relative ease. Upon seeing another pedestrian in Muslim garb, Tarrant uses a shotgun to blow several holes in his windscreen before he shoots out his side window and guns down the man in cold blood. The man did not appear to have even noticed the initial shots in his direction before he was shot.
Tarrant finally drives off while playing the soundtrack from the ‘90s racing anime, Initial D. Police sirens can be heard wailing in the distance before the video ends at around the 17 minute mark.
What is The Great Replacement?
In addition to the livestream of Tarrant’s shooting spree, the gunman uploaded a manifesto titled “The Great Replacement” (pastebin backup) where he tried to justify his actions.
Tarrant lists the declining birthrates of white people in Western countries all over the world and the demographic takeover by Muslims as the main drive for his actions.
In his manifesto, Tarrant says he represents “Millions of European and other ethno-nationalist peoples that wish to live in peace amongst their own people, living in their own lands, practicing their own traditions and deciding the future of their own kind.” He claims not to be a direct member of any political group or movement, but has in fact donated to “many” and interacted with “many more.”
He stated that while no group ordered the attack, he was in contact with the “reborn Knights Templar” who offered him their blessing.
Tarrant says that the intent of his terrorist attack was to “show the invaders that their lands will never be their lands,” fend off foreign invaders, and to take revenge for the Swedish child Ebba Akerlund and other victims of terrorist violence in the West. He further intends to sow discord among both his enemies as well as Europeans to force these groups into a position of violence.
In the Q&A section of The Great Replacement, Tarrant declines to blame video games for his actions, choosing instead to quip: “Yes, Spyro the dragon 3 taught me ethno-nationalism. Fortnite treained me to be a killer and to floss on the corpses of my enemies. No.”
The shooter, who identifies as an “eco-fascist,” writes that he believes in “ethnic autonomy for all peoples with a focus on the preservation of nature, and the natural order.”
Although one might expect Tarrant to support Donald Trump, he writes that he only supports the US President as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose” but not as a “policy maker and leader.” “Dear god no,” he writes.
Tarrant thanks the Internet for the development of his beliefs, stating that the person who influenced his views the most was Turning Point USA’s African-American representative, Candace Owens, whom he thanks for stunning him with “her insights and her own views,” which he claims “helped push me further and further into the belief of violence over meekness.”
The shooter says in the manifesto that he intends to stand trial for his actions, which he intends to plead “not guilty” to. “The attack was a partisan action against a occupying force, and I am a lawful, uniformed combatant.”
Judging from his actions as well as the supplied manifesto, Tarrant’s motives are exceedingly clear. Police now have one man in custody (video of arrest).
UPDATE: PewDiePie responds:
Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch.
I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person.
My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.
— ƿ૯ωძɿ૯ƿɿ૯ (@pewdiepie) March 15, 2019
UPDATE: Three men and one woman in custody, entire Christchurch on lockdown, IEDs found, police “doing everything we can” to remove the shooting video from the internet — Press conference #2 with Police Commissioner Mike Bush via Facebook.
UPDATE: New Zealand reportedly blocking sites that don’t comply with requests to remove the archive of the mass shooter’s livestream.
Multiple websites receiving requests from New Zealand law enforcement to remove the video and links to it. Users from New Zealand apparently blocked from accessing sites which don't comply. pic.twitter.com/un1kr46MCF
— Mister AntiBully (@MisterAntiBully) March 15, 2019
UPDATE: Death toll currently at 40.
Death toll currently at 40 https://t.co/z63d87JkAP
— Mister AntiBully (@MisterAntiBully) March 15, 2019
UPDATE: Reddit bans gore subreddits r/watchpeopledie and r/gore over posts containing links to footage of the shooting, reports DailyDot.