Armed police patrol outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says many people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)>
There is a "serious and evolving" situation with an active shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, police commissioner Mike Bush said. In a statement read on TV 3 New Zealand, police said one person was in custody. Police said there are a number of causalities but did not specify how many.
Police also urged all mosques in New Zealand to close their doors and asked residents to refrain from visiting.
Residents of Christchurch were also asked to stay indoors.
Witness Len Peneha told the Associated Press he saw a man dressed in black enter the Masjid Al Noor mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.
Peneha, who lives next door to the mosque, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in Peneha's driveway, and fled.
Peneha said he then went into the mosque to try and help.
"I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque," he said. "It's unbelievable nutty. I don't understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It's ridiculous."
He said he helped about five people recover in his home. He said one was slightly injured.
"I've lived next door to this mosque for about five years and the people are great, they're very friendly," he said. "I just don't understand it."
He said the gunman was white and was wearing a helmet with some kind of device on top, giving him a military-type appearance.
The New Zealand Herald reported there was a second shooting at the Linwood Masjid Mosque.
Mark Nichols told the Herald he heard about five gunshots and that a Friday prayer goer returned fire with a rifle or shotgun. Nichols said he saw two injured people being carried out on stretchers past his automotive shop and that both people appeared to be alive.
All schools in Christchurch have been placed on lockdown, BBC News reports. Officers also cleared Cathedral Square, where thousands of children were holding a rally for action on climate change, according to BBC news.