Trump offers U.S. assistance after ‘horrible massacre’ in New Zealand
The White House said Friday that the United States “strongly condemns” deadly attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, with President Trump offering U.S. assistance following what he called “a horrible massacre.”
Shortly before 7:30 a.m., the White House issued its first response, in the form of a statement, to the spasm of violence that left 49 people dead and dozens of others wounded. Trump followed up with a message on Twitter about 10 minutes later.
“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured,” he wrote. “The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”
The statement and tweet came after a heavily armed gunman clad in military-style gear opened fire during prayers at the mosque in the center of Christchurch on Friday. A second mosque was also targeted in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a well-planned “terrorist attack,” making for “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
One man in his late 20s, whom the authorities declined to name, was charged with murder and was expected to appear in court on Saturday morning.
Police said that the man had also released a manifesto railing against Muslims and immigrants. The 74-page document also makes a brief mention of Trump, which neither the White House statement nor Trump’s tweet addressed.
The purported shooter said he was a supporter of Trump in one sense but not completely: “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.”
In the document, the man also stated that he was following the example of notorious right-wing extremists, including Dylann Roof, who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., in 2015.
Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.