Two people killed in New Zealand shooting hours before World Cup kicks off

Police said at least six more people were injured after a gunman opened fired at a construction site in downtown Auckland, New Zealand.

Three people including the gunman are dead and six more are injured, New Zealand Police say

Two people have died and at least six more have been injured after a gunman opened fire at a construction site in downtown Auckland, New Zealand, hours before the World Cup.

Local media reported gunshots were heard at the site early on Thursday morning, sending workers rushing from the scene.

The gunman was found dead in an elevator, said Acting Police Superintendent Sunny Patel.

New Zealand hosts the Women’s World Cup, with the first match kicking off on Thursday, but there is no suggestion the shooting was linked to the tournament.

New Zealand’s prime minister Chris Hipkins told a press conference the gunman was armed with a pump-action shotgun as he moved to the upper levels of the building: “There was no political or ideological motive for the shooting.”

He said he understood the two people killed were civilians, not police, and added: “This appears to be the actions of one individual.”

A minute of silence was observed before the start of New Zealand’s match against Norway in Auckland.

New Zealand players observe a moment of silence for the victims of a shooting attack in Auckland. / Credit: AP

“Clearly with the FIFA World Cup kicking off this evening, there are a lot of eyes on Auckland,” Hipkins said. “The government has spoken to FIFA organizers this morning and the tournament will proceed as planned.”

“I want to reiterate that there is no wider national security threat,” he added. “This appears to be the action of one individual.”

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said the gunman was a 24-year-old who had previously worked at the building site, and his motive appeared to be connected to his work there.

Coster said the man moved through the building, firing at people there.

“Upon reaching the upper levels of the building, the male has contained himself within the elevator shaft and our staff have attempted to engage with him,” Patel said in a statement. “Further shots were fired from the male and he was located deceased a short time later.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if police had shot the gunman or he had killed himself. The suspected gunman didn’t have a gun license and so shouldn’t have been in possession of a firearm.

Police interview construction workers in the central business district following a shooting in Auckland, New Zealand. / Credit: AP

Coster said that while alarming, the incident was isolated and didn’t pose a national security risk.

“What has unfolded is understandably alarming and we are reassuring the public that this incident has been contained and is an isolated incident,” Coster added.

Earlier, members of the public were told by authorities to seek shelter and avoid the area, and
all ferry services were suspended until further notice.

A police officer was photographed walking to an ambulance, assisted by his colleagues, with what appeared to be blood on his uniform.

An armed police officer stands at a road block in the central business district following the shooting. / Credit: AP

The incident unfolded just hours before the first match of the Women’s World Cup was set to kick off, with a Group A match between hosts New Zealand and Norway.

The shooting took place in the city’s busy business district on the waterfront, close to the hotels where Norway’s World Cup players were staying.

It has not been suggested the incident is in any way connected to the sporting event.

Team Norway captain Maren Mjelde said people woke up quickly when a helicopter began hovering outside the hotel window.

“We felt safe the whole time,” she said in a statement. “FIFA has a good security system at the hotel, and we have our own security officer in the squad. Everyone seems calm and we are preparing as normal for the game tonight.”

What is the gun situation in New Zealand?

Active shooting incidents in New Zealand are rare, with this incident leading the country’s main news websites and broadcasts.

New Zealand banned most semi-automatic weapons in 2019, weeks after a man killed 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch during the nation’s worst mass shooting.

A subsequent buyback scheme saw gun owners hand over more than 50,000 banned weapons to police.

Coster said the shotgun used in Thursday’s shooting is not on the list of banned weapons.

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