One gunman carried out both shootings at Al Noor and Linwood Masjid mosques in Christchurch, police confirmed on Saturday.
At a press conference Police Commissioner Mike Bush said that a single shooter travelled between mosques in seven minutes.
His confirmation comes after mixed reports on Friday that there were two shooters.
Mr Bush said hero officers were able to make an arrest 36 minutes after the first call was made.
A live audio of the arrest made clear that suspected shooter Brenton Tarrant was ‘non-compliant’ during his dramatic roadside arrest.
Tragically one child ‘possibly two’ had died in the attack, Mr Bush said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke at a press conference in the New Zealand city following visits around Christchurch – including Canterbury Refugee Centre – to pay respect to the victims
Brenton Harrison Tarrant – a 28-year-old Australian man from Grafton NSW – briefly fronted Christchurch District Court on Saturday following a mass shooting at Al Noor and Linwood Majid mosques on Friday afternoon
Police were called at 1.42pm on Friday after a gunman, believed to be Tarrant, entered the Al Noor Mosque during afternoon prayers and opened fire on defenceless worshippers.
He then drove to nearby Linwood Masjid Mosque where he carried out another attack.
Forty-one people are believed to have been killed at the Al Noor mosque, seven at Linwood Masjid.
The first victims of the terror attack have been confirmed as Haji Daoud Nabi, 71, Naeem Rashid and his son Talha, 21.
Brenton Harrison Tarrant – a 28-year-old Australian man from Grafton NSW – briefly fronted Christchurch District Court on Saturday following a mass shooting at Al Noor and Linwood Majid mosques on Friday afternoon.
Tarrant was charged with with one count of murder but police say many more charges are expected to be laid – he has been remanded in custody and his duty lawyer did not apply for bail. He will reappear in the High Court on April 5.
A second man Daniel John Burrough, 18, has also been charged with ‘exciting hostility or ill-will’ in relation to the mosque attacks but he did not appear in court.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke at a press conference in the New Zealand city – following visits around Christchurch to pay respect to the victims – where she said the gunman had every intention to ‘continue’ the attack.
‘There were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack,’ Ms Ardern said at the press conference.
‘There is a primary perpetrator here, but this is a complex and ongoing investigation and the commissioner will give more details on that tomorrow.
‘I’m simply not privy to give details today.’
Ms Ardern confirmed that 39 people remain in hospital, with 11 in the Intensive Care Unit.
Police allege that Tarrant began his shooting rampage at the Al Noor Masjidal Mosque in the city’s east, before driving across town to the Linwood Masjid Mosque and again opening fire
Timeline of terror: How the Christchurch shootings unfolded
Friday March 15, 1.30pm local time (12.30am GMT): Gunman identifying himself as Brenton Tarrant live-streams mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque as Friday prayers are underway. The Bangladesh cricket team were on their way to the mosque at the time.
1.42pm: Police respond to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch. People are urged to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour. Shortly afterwards, all schools in the city are placed into lockdown.
1.49pm: Gunman believed to have travelled to Linwood Masjid Mosque, where he shot dead seven people.
2.10pm: Police confirm they are attending an ‘evolving situation’ involving an ‘active shooter’.
2.18pm: Hero cops detain gunman in dramatic roadside arrest, captured on camera by passing motorist.
3.30pm: Two explosive devices attached to a car are found and disarmed by a bomb squad at Strickland Street, not far from the Al Noor Mosque.
4pm: One person confirmed to be in custody. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush says there have been ‘multiple fatalities’ at two locations – both mosques. Mosques across New Zealand urged to shut their doors.
4.10pm: Prime minister Jacinda Ardern calls it ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’.
5.30pm: Mr Bush says three men and one woman are in custody. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison confirms one of those arrested is Australian.
7.30pm: Ms Ardern says 40 are dead and more than 20 are seriously injured but confirms the offender is in custody
National security threat level is lifted from low to high.
7.45pm: Britomart train station in central Auckland is evacuated after bags are found unattended. The bags were deemed not suspicious.
9pm: Death toll rises to 49 and Police Commissioner Bush reveals a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder.
Police are not looking for any named or identified suspects, he says, but adds that it would be ‘wrong to assume that there is no-one else’.
11.50pm: Investigation extends 240 miles to the south where homes are evacuated around a ‘location of interest’ in Dunedin.
‘Those injured range from young children to the elderly, they include men, women and children.’
The Prime Minister also confirmed Christchurch remain on high alert and that security at mosques will remain in place until authorities deem there is no longer any threat.
‘Police are working to build a picture of this tragic event. A complex and comprehensive investigation is underway.’
Ms Ardern said specialists were working alongside the community to repatriate the bodies of the victims ‘that is consistent with the Muslim faith’ so families could bury their loved ones.
Ms Ardern commended the two police officers – who are rural community cops from Lincoln – for arresting the gunman as they put ‘New Zealand first’.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush earlier commended police for their prompt response and said within 36 minutes of the first report to police of the shooting, the gunman was arrested and placed into custody.
‘There were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack,’ Ms Ardern said at the press conference (pictured is a still from a live-stream of the shooting)
The Prime Minister also confirmed Christchurch remain on high alert and that security at mosques will remain in place until authorities deem there is no longer any threat (pictured, floral tributes are left before dawn at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand)
Ms Ardern said specialists were working alongside the community to repatriate the bodies of the victims ‘that is consistent with the Muslim faith’ so families could bury their loved ones (pictured, local residents leave floral tributes at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead)
‘That is an incredibly fast response time. You had a mobile offender across large metropolitan city. I am very happy with the response of our staff,’ Bush said.
‘But we were also on scene at the mosques way earlier than that.’
Police arrested three men – including Tarrant – and a woman following Friday’s attacks.
Commissioner Bush said that the third man was spotted carrying a gun by a police officer, but after questioning it was revealed the man was on his way to collect his children from school and took the weapon to protect himself.
‘In terms of people who have been charged, we have – as you know, we apprehended four people on the day,’ Mr Bush said.
‘One was released quite early – a member of the public who just wanted to get their kids home, but decided to take a firearm.’
Commissioner Bush also thanked other first responders and support agencies for their response and effort and that some members of the public had shown ‘absolute bravery’.
Commissioner Bush said that the third man was spotted carrying a gun by a police officer, but after questioning it was revealed the man was on his way to collect his children from school and took the weapon to protect himself (pictured, emergency services responding to mass shooting on Friday afternoon)