The staggering death toll from the mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques has climbed to 50, New Zealand police confirmed Sunday, as the country continued to grapple with the emotional fallout from the atrocity.
The body of the 50th victim was discovered at the Al Noor mosque, where most victims were killed, when officials were removing the victims’ bodies on Saturday, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said, told reporters on Sunday.
The victims’ names were not made public. While a preliminary list of the victims has been shared with families, Bush said their bodies have not yet been released.
The number of wounded also increased to 50, he said. Of those, 34 remain hospitalized in the Christchurch Hospital and 12 are in critical condition, Greg Robertson, the hospital’s chief of surgery, said.
He also noted that a 4-year-old girl who was transferred to the Starship Hospital in Auckland was still in critical condition.
Two days after the shootings, Brenton Harris Tarrant, 28, appears to be the only person in custody that has been linked to the attack.
Three other people who were initially detained were not involved in the attacks, Bush said, but authorities are not ruling out the possibility of other suspects.
“I will not be saying anything conclusive until we are absolutely convinced as to how many people were involved, but we hope to be able to give that advice over the next few days,” the police commissioner said.
Suspect’s manifesto was emailed before attack
The suspect sent an 87-page manifesto to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern minutes before the attack began.
Ardern’s chief press secretary, Andrew Campbell, told CNN that the email was sent to a “generic” email account maintained by staff, and was not seen by the Prime Minister.
The document, also posted on social media before the shooting, was filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim screeds. Authorities have declined to discuss potential motives for the attack.
Tarrant, who is facing one murder charge, made a hand gesture associated with white supremacists when he appeared in court Saturday.
He was remanded in custody and will reappear in court April 5.