'An ugly part of the world has come here'

It was while I was exploring New Zealand's only castle I heard the news of the Christchurch terror attack.
The mood at Larnach Castle immediately changed.
We were told there were unconfirmed reports of multiple casualties in a mass shooting at two mosques - Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Masjid. 
A little later, we heard one of the men allegedly involved in the massacre was Australian. 
Christchurch mosque attacks
My sister-in-law was working three kilometres away from Masjid Al Noor and was placed in lockdown for three hours. 
'We were told to stay inside and not to leave the buildings. There were sirens going off around us. It was very scary,' Grace O'Sullivan told 9news.com.au.
'It has always been such a safe town to live in and we have never ever had to worry about something like this happening. 
'It was so shocking and very unexpected.'
I'm currently located 350 kilometres further south in Dunedin, and was working on a travel story.
It's a surreal feeling in Dunedin. This morning, there was a police helicopter circulating above. And every time I hear a siren, I immediately fear the worst. 
The accused gunman, Brenton Tarrant, was based in Dunedin. Al Huda Mosque, just five kilometres away from where I am staying, remains closed today.
The street Tarrant lived in is in a residential area with new houses and a strip of state houses. 
Three police cars were located outside his property with officers and sniffer dogs. 
'This has never happened and I think that's why we're all really in shock about it,' Dunedin local Betty Mason-Parker told 9news.com.au in Dunedin.
'We're a small country so when something happens somewhere we all feel it. Everyone feels shell-shock and feel that we've been violated. We have to trust in our security but it seems they had no idea about it and he had a gun licence.' 
Tarrant was a club member at Bruce Rifle Club, 50 kilometres south of Dunedin.
Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has declared gun laws will change in New Zealand after yesterday's deadly mass shooting. 
'I was in my hotel room last night and I heard a bang and I thought ‘Oh gosh, is that a gunshot?' It's not something that would go through your mind normally,' Christchurch local Kate Preece, who is currently in Dunedin, told 9news.com.au.
'I think the scariest thing is what's going to happen next in the sense of how we are going to react to it. How will our security measures need to be upped? Look at what our children have gone through being in lockdown at school.'
The mother-of-two said she received three emails from Tai Tapu School where her children attend, alerting parents the premise was in lockdown yesterday.
'We are in lockdown due to several shootings in the city. Lockdown protocol means we cannot release children. They're all safe and accounted for,' the first email read.
The final email read: 'We are still in a state of lockdown. I have moved all children into the school staff room and we are completely secure. Just knock on school front door and someone will let you in.'
A vigil has been set up in The Octagon it the city centre of Dunedin with written signs stating 'Hate has no place here' and 'Our prayers and thoughts are with the people of Christchurch, as well as the Muslim community'.
New Zealand's worst act of terror has created concern among Muslim communities here.
'We urge the community to stay calm and be extra vigilant,' Otago Muslim Association posted on Facebook yesterday.
'Please take care of yourself. We are working together with campus watch and police for safety in the campus area and the mosque.'
At approximately the same time Tarrant allegedly went on a shooting rampage while live-streaming it, I was in the car with Dunedin local Sarah Bramhall and was asking questions for the travel story I was working on.
I asked if crime was a problem in New Zealand. Her answer was 'only petty crimes'.
This event has rocked and shocked this country. The mood is grief and fear.
'An ugly part of the world has come here and it's just not welcome,' Sandy Black told 9news.com.au. 

No comments found