AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — A gunman killed two people at a construction site in downtown Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, Thursday as the nation prepared to host AUCKLAND matches. FIFA Women’s World Cup. Authorities said the shooter was also dead.
Authorities said six other people, including at least one police officer, were injured during the shooting, which took place near hotels where the Norway team and other soccer teams were staying.
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the tournament would go ahead as planned.
“Clearly, with the FIFA World Cup kicking off tonight, there are a lot of eyes on Auckland,” Hipkins said. «The government spoke with the FIFA organizers this morning and the tournament will go ahead as planned.»
“I want to reiterate that there is no broader threat to national security. This appears to be the action of an individual.”
Hipkins said the shooter was armed with a pump-action shotgun. Police arrived a minute after the first emergency call and had run into danger to save lives, he said.
“These types of situations move fast and the actions of those who risk their lives to save others are nothing short of heroic,” Hipkins said.
Acting Police Superintendent Sunny Patel said the man began shooting at the site on lower Queen Street around 7:20 am Police surrounded the area.
The man walked through the building and shot at people who were there, Patel said.
«Upon reaching the upper levels of the building, the male restrained himself within the elevator shaft and our staff attempted to engage him,» Patel said in a statement. «More shots were fired from the man and he was located dead a short time later.»
It was not immediately clear if police shot the attacker or killed himself.
Outside, armed police had the commercial business district on tight lockdown with streets cordoned off surrounding the ferry terminal area of the tourist port. Police demanded that passersby disperse and ordered people inside their office buildings to shelter in place.
The incident comes as soccer teams and fans gathered in New Zealand for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The opening match is scheduled for Thursday between New Zealand and Norway.
Norway team captain Maren Mjelde said the team’s players woke up quickly when a helicopter began to hover over the hotel window.
“We felt safe all the time,” he said in a statement. “FIFA has a good security system in the hotel and we have our own security officer in the team. Everyone seems calm and we are preparing normally for tonight’s game.»
Team USA said all of its players and staff were accounted for and safe. He said the team was in communication with local authorities and continuing with their daily schedule.
New Zealand banned assault weapons in 2019, weeks after a gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch during the nation’s worst mass shooting.
In a subsequent buyback scheme, gun owners turned over 50,000 AR-15-style rifles and other assault weapons to police.
The ban does not include all semi-automatic weapons. Hipkins said it was not immediately clear if the gun the gunman used would have been covered by the ban.
Officials at Eden Park, where the opening game is taking place, said they were encouraging ticket holders to arrive early and there would be a heightened security presence at the venue.
Tourism New Zealand canceled a media welcome party, which was scheduled to take place on Thursday afternoon at a location within the cordoned-off area.