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Gunman Kills Two In New Zealand Hours Before First Game At 2023 Women’s World Cup

Gunman Kills Two In New Zealand Hours Before First Game At 2023 Women’s World Cup

A man stormed a high-rise construction site in downtown Auckland early Thursday morning, shooting at workers and killing two people hours before New Zealand host the first game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament.

According to Associated Press (AP) the gunman was found dead after a police shootout, during which an officer was shot and wounded. Four civilians were also injured.

The shooting happened near hotels where Team Norway and other teams have been staying.

New Zealand Prime Minster Chris Hipkins said the tournament would go ahead as scheduled.

Police said there would be heightened security at the tournament’s opening game to help reassure fans, and FIFA said a minute of silence would be observed before each of the two opening games.

“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.”

The shooting jarred New Zealand, where active shooter incidents are rare, leading the country’s the main news websites and broadcasts.

Hipkins said the man was armed with a shotgun, adding that police arrived within minutes of the first emergency call and ran into harm’s way to save lives.

“These kinds of situations move fast, and the actions of those who risk their lives to save others are nothing short of heroic,” Hipkins said.

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.

The man identified as the shooter had a history of family violence and was serving a sentence of home detention, but had an exemption to work at the lower Queen Street site, Coster said.

The shooting began at about 7:20 a.m., and police soon swarmed the area.

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The shooter moved through the unfinished building firing at people, Coster said, as many workers fled or hid. He then barricaded himself in an elevator shaft on the third floor, Coster said, where SWAT-type officers engaged him after securing the floors above and below.

“The offender fired at police, injuring an officer,” Coster said. “Shots were exchanged and the offender was later found deceased.”

Coster said it wasn’t yet clear whether police had shot the man or he had killed himself. He said the suspected shooter didn’t have a gun license and so shouldn’t have been in possession of a firearm.

Outside, armed police officers placed an area in Auckland’s downtown on heavy lockdown, with streets cordoned off surrounding the harbor ferry terminal, which is popular with tourists. Police ordered bystanders to disperse and told people inside office buildings to shelter in place.

The shooting happened as soccer teams and fans gathered in New Zealand for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which the country is hosting jointly with Australia. The opening match is scheduled to be played in Auckland on Thursday evening, between New Zealand and Norway. Hipkins said he was considering whether he’d attend the match as planned.

Officials at Eden Park, where the opening match of the FIFA tournament is taking place, said they were encouraging ticket holders to arrive early and there would be an increased security presence at the venue.

New Zealand has tight gun laws, imposed in 2019 after the country’s worst mass shooting prompted a sea change in attitudes toward guns.

A shooter killed 51 Muslim worshippers at two Christchurch mosques during Friday prayers in March 2019.

The opening match will be contested between New Zealand and Norway at Eden Park, Auckland, on 20 July 2023.

Nigeria’s Super Falcons, who are based in Melbourne, Australia, will take on Olympic champions Canada in their opening game on Friday, July 21, at 3:30am (Nigerian time).

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  • Ako Amadi 11 months ago

    If thus had happened in Africa, aall the European teams would have fflown home at once

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