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New Zealand: 3 dead after Auckland shooting

July 20, 2023

Several others were wounded in the shooting in central Auckland hours before the start of FIFA's Women's World Cup. Matches held in New Zealand will go ahead as planned, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Police officers stand guard near the location of a reported shooting in Auckland, New Zealand
Police officers stand guard near the location of a reported shooting in AucklandImage: Nathan Frandino/REUTERS

At least three people, including the gunman, died after a 24-year-old opened fire at a construction site in Auckland on Thursday, New Zealand police said.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said there was no national security threat and the Women's World Cup, due to get underway later on Thursday, would still go ahead as planned.

"There was no identified political or ideological motivation for the shooting and therefore no national security risk," Hipkins said. "Aucklanders and those watching around the world can be assured that the police have neutralized the threat and that they are not seeking anyone else in relation to the incident." 

Deadly shooting in New Zealand ahead of women's World Cup

What do we know about the New Zealand shooting?

At least two people were killed after a man opened fire at a construction site in New Zealand's largest city at around 7:20 a.m. local time (1920 GMT Wednesday). The site is near the fan base of the football Women's World Cup.

The gunman was known to police and said to have had a history of family violence and mental health issues.

Police said he had been subject to a home detention order but had an exemption to work at the construction site. He did not have a license to own a firearm. Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said there was "nothing to suggest he presented a higher-level risk."

"The offender fired at police, injuring an officer. Shots were exchanged and the offender was later found deceased," Coster added. "Tragically, police located two members of the public deceased on the lower levels of the building site."

The shooting in one of the busy streets in the city center was "contained and is an isolated incident," police said in a statement. "We can also advise that this is not a national security risk."

Earlier, police said a "significant incident" had occurred but said the situation had been contained to a single building that was under construction on lower Queen Street, in the city center. 

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown described the situation as "dreadful" and warned people to stay away as "police are under immense pressure."

Shooting as Women's World Cup opens

The incident occurred as New Zealand prepares to host the FIFA Women's World Cup, jointly with Australia, which gets underway later on Thursday.

The location of the shooting was in a square directly by the Philippines team hotel and just 300 meters (984 feet) from where Norway's team, who are due to play New Zealand in the opening match of the tournament at Eden Park on Thursday, are staying.

Norwegian captain Maren Mjelde told DW: "Everyone woke up quite quickly when the helicopter hovered outside the hotel window and a large number of emergency vehicles arrived." 

"At first we didn't know what was going on, but eventually there were updates on TV and the local media. We felt safe the whole time. FIFA has a good security system at the hotel, and we have our own security officer in the squad."

A fan festival that had been planned close to the scene of the shooting on Thursday was canceled out of respect for the victims. 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, along with Secretary-General Fatma Samoura, met with New Zealand Sports Minister Grant Robertson after the shooting to confer on security precautions for the Women's World Cup event. 

"We appreciate the collaboration with New Zealand authorities from the earliest moment of this tragic incident," Infantino said. "We have been involved in ongoing communication from the outset, and we have also received the necessary reassurances."   

A moment of silence was later held for the victims of the shooting shortly before the kickoff of the Women's World Cup opening match. 

jsi/rc (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)