As New Zealanders of all races and religions gather to pay respect to the dozens of victims of Friday’s deadly mass shooting, stories of those who heroically tried to thwart the attacker are coming to light.
28-year Australian Brenton Tarrant opened fire on the congregations of two Christchurch mosques as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers, killing 49 and injuring dozens others. However, if it wasn’t for the courageous actions of several people, the death toll may have been much higher.
At the scene of the first attack in the al Noor Mosque, Naeem Rashid was left badly wounded after he launched himself at the attacker in an attempt to shield other worshippers from the gunman’s bullets. The Pakistani later died from his wounds in hospital.
A banker in his native Pakistan, Rashid moved to Christchurch several years ago, where he worked as a teacher. Tragically, Rashid’s 21-year-old son, Talha, also lost his life in Friday’s attack.
a portrait of #NaeemRashid. 🐝
Naeem loved nature and saving honey bees. he died a hero, rushing the Christchurch gunman. extraordinary, fierce courage from a kind, gentle soul — this man is an absolute legend ❤️
NZ was blessed to have him.
— 𝚛𝚊𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚊 𝚔 (@rahera_k) March 16, 2019
At the second location at the nearby Linwood mosque, Abdul Aziz overpowered and later chased Tarrant out of the mosque. Grabbing the first thing he could find as a weapon, a credit card reader, Aziz then followed the gunman screaming into the carpark. He later managed to pick up a shotgun abandoned by the killer after a cat-and-mouse chase between the parked cars. Aziz threw the shotgun through the window of Tarrant’s vehicle as the killer fled.
Abdul Aziz, 48, chased down the #Christchurch attacker with nothing but an unloaded shotgun, using it as a javelin and shattering the window of the attackers car, causing him to flee.
He likely saved the lives of 50 people. Hero. Muslim. pic.twitter.com/1OJsGlQOBA
— Adam #FBPE🇪🇺 (@AdamDidThat) March 16, 2019
Latef Alabi, the mosque’s acting imam, said that if it wasn’t for the quick and heroic thinking of Aziz, a refugee from Afghanistan, “then we would all probably be gone.”
Heartbreaking interview with an eyewitness to New Zealand terror attack who rendered aid shooting victims: “We could hear the ambulances but they couldn’t get to us.” (BBC) pic.twitter.com/OoFmjlbm2T
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) March 15, 2019
Outside the mosques, those working or passing nearby rushed to aid the victims before emergency services arrived. Jill Keats was on her way to the mall when she stopped after one victim fell at her car door at the al Noor mosque. Pulling him to safety, she later dressed his wounds and rang his wife to tell her to meet him at the hospital. “I never thought in my life I would see something like this. Not in New Zealand,” she told the media.
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