Man who scared away Christchurch mosque gunman hailed a hero

Relatives of a victim of the mosque shootings wait for news at a community centre in Christchurch New Zealand

Relatives of a victim of the mosque shootings wait for news at a community centre in Christchurch New Zealand

Survivors of the Christchurch mosque shootings have recalled how elderly worshippers and children were mercilessly gunned down as a heavily armed attacker methodically targeted Muslims Friday in New Zealand's worst massacre.

Abdul Aziz describes how he picked up a gunman's discarded weapon and chased him with it outside the Linwood mosque in Christchurch.

The shotgun he had picked up was out of ammunition, so when the killer got back in his auto Mr Aziz says he threw the weapon "like an arrow", breaking the vehicle's window.

The gunman then got into his auto and drove away yelling at Aziz that he would kill them all.

The windshield shattered, Mr Aziz said.

The gunman is believed to have killed 41 people at the Al Noor mosque before driving about three miles across town and attacking the Linwood mosque, where he killed seven more people. One other person died at the hospital later.

The imam said he stopped prayers on Friday after hearing a voice outside and then seeing a man in black military-style gear and a helmet holding a large gun.

"By the time I peeked on the floor I see two, three dead bodies".

People place flowers at a memorial as a tribute to victims of the mosque attacks near Linwood mosque in Christchurch
People place flowers at a memorial as a tribute to victims of the mosque attacks near Linwood mosque in Christchurch

"I realized this is something else".

Alabi said he told worshippers to duck down and then described how he and a "brother" made a decision to confront the attacker during a lull in the gunfire.

He said the gunman was cursing at him, yelling that he was going to kill them all. "He went after him, and he managed to overpower him, and that's how we were saved", Alabi said, referring to Aziz.

But he drove away and Mr Aziz said he chased the auto down the street to a red light, before it made a U-turn and sped away.

The pair's actions may have saved further casualties, as Tarrant was apprehended by two armed police officers not far from Linwood mosque soon afterwards while driving his vehicle with a visibly smashed back window.

Aziz, who's originally from Afghanistan, said he left his home country as a refugee at an early age and lived in Australia for 25 years before moving to New Zealand just a couple years ago.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, speaking from parliament on Saturday, says she is committed to changing the country's gun laws after 49 people died in a terror attack in Christchurch. And, he always thought, a peaceful one as well.

Aziz said he ran outside screaming, hoping to stop the gunman from entering the mosque. And he believes that God, that Allah, didn't think it was his time to die.

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