Wellington, Jul 20 (EFE).- Two people were killed and several people injured when a gunman opened fire on Thursday morning inside a building site in Auckland’s central business district.
The suspect was also confirmed dead by New Zealand police.
At 7.22 am local time (19:22 GMT Wednesday) police received multiple emergency calls about a person discharging a firearm inside the third floor of a building under construction on Auckland’s waterfront.
Police “entered the building within ten minutes” and the offender “made his way up through the building site, discharging his firearm on multiple occasions” as people scattered and hid, while some were evacuated, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said at a livestreamed press conference.
“At around 8am, our Armed Offenders Squad, supported by Special Tactics group, located the offender inside a lift shaft, where he has barricaded himself, and attempted to engage him… The offender fired at police, injuring an officer,” Coster said.
“Shots were exchanged, and the offender was later found deceased. Tragically, police located two members of the public deceased on the lower levels of the building site.”
At an earlier press conference, a visibly upset Prime Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed with “deep sorrow” that two people had been killed and six injured, including the police officer.
The officer was taken to hospital in critical condition, but had since stabilized and was expected to undergo surgery.
St. John Ambulance manager Stuart Cockburn said the service assessed and treated 10 patients – seven of which were gunshot related and taken to hospital, and three with minor other injuries who were released.
The alleged offender was identified a 24-year-old who worked at the building site and police believe his motivation was connected to his employment.
Coster added that the unnamed man was on home detention with an exemption to work at the site.
He said the offender used a shotgun, which was not illegal, but that he did not have a firearms license to use it. Police had previously searched his property and never found him in possession of a firearm.
An investigation has been launched, but police assured that it was an isolated incident with no risk to national security, while Hipkins said there was no ideological or political motivation.
The man had a “primarily family violence history” and “some indications of mental health history,” Coster said.
The shooting occurred hours before the opening ceremony of the Fifa Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, and the first match of the tournament, in which New Zealand faces Norway at Auckland’s Eden Park.
Hipkins said the tournament “will take place as planned.”
“FIFA extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following the incident which occurred this morning in Auckland, New Zealand, and our thoughts and prayers remain with those who have been injured in this tragic incident,” Fifa said in a statement. EFE