The 'coward who hid behind powerful guns'

Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant faced more victims for the second day of his sentencing hearing in the High Court on Tuesday.

Tarrant, an Australian, has admitted 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of terrorism over the attacks at two Christchurch mosques on March 15, 2019.

Al Noor mosque survivor Mohammad Shamim Siddiqui was shot in the arm and spent eight days in hospital.

He had only been inside five minutes when Tarrant "entered into the house of God with evil intentions to kill innocent people".

"You have killed the dreams of my good friends and family," he said.

"You pointed your gun at them and shot with your intent to carry out your gutless action."

Mr Siddiqui said he tried not to talk about the shooting "because I don't want to give you the satisfaction you want".

Mohammad Shamim Siddiqui says that Brenton Tarrant’s ‘time will come’.
Mohammad Shamim Siddiqui says that Brenton Tarrant’s ‘time will come’.

The taxi driver has not been able to return to work since the attack due to the trauma, and that his young children were also struggling.

He recounted how one day his daughter came home crying.

"(She) said while she was walking on Deans Avenue she was very scared, as cars were driving past her and she didn't know if someone would kill her," he said.

Mr Siddiqui said to Tarrant, "Your time will come, like everyone will have to face God for whatever they have done, good or bad."

The twin brother and older sister of Al Noor victim Junaid Ismail, 36, described having to step in and care for his widow and young children.

Zahid Ismail said the family would ensure Junaid's legacy would carry on through his sons and daughter, "who will become confident, proud Kiwis who will live in the same place their daddy lived".

Zahid Ismail spoke about his twin brother who was killed in the massacre.
Zahid Ismail spoke about his twin brother who was killed in the massacre.

He remembered his brother's "faithfulness, passion for cricket and pride in his large beard".

Junaid's sister Raesha Ismael, 40, said the events had inspired her to change career from health education to counselling.

"I will utilise this experience to support clients in the future and strengthen my career to help others," she said.

"I am stronger internally as a result of what happened. After the events I don't feel I have to hide my faith at work anymore."

The family of father-and-son victims Naeem Rashid, 50, and Talha Naeem, 21, spoke about the financial devastation of losing the two main breadwinners in the household.

Naeem was hailed as a hero for attempting to tackle Tarrant during the Al Noor attack.

"Naeem was the bravest person on earth who fearlessly tried to counter the coward attacker whose only strength was weapons," his widow Ambreen Naeem, 45, said in a statement read on her behalf.

Ms Naeem said her youngest son was six at the time and did not understand why his dad and big brother weren't coming home.

"I told him they were in a better place because they were so brave - that they were in a better place and were with Allah," she said.

She described Talha, who supported his family financially through his engineering job, as "the most amazing son and brother".

Tarrant, she said, should not get "any joy from his life any more" but that "I will consider him as a human, for the sake of Allah".

Abduallah Naeem, 20, said his "beloved father and brother were the best gift from God".

"I cherished every moment we spent together," he said.

"Sometimes it seems impossible to go on, but it is the thought of reuniting again in the highest rank of heaven that keeps me going and Inshallah we will."

Kiran Munir, the widow of Haroon Mahmood, 40, said Tarrant should never be allowed the possibility or parole.

"I would like to see the punishment for this offender is such that it deters anybody from committing such a nightmarish actions ever again," she said.

"For everyone's benefit, releasing him in the community will not be safe. This is a perverted mind, life in prison means life for him."

Sanjida Neha, 21, the widow of Mohammad Omar Faruk, 36, was in Bangladesh pregnant with their first child when the attack happened.

Ms Neha, who has since moved to New Zealand to raise their daughter, described growing strong and independent.

"When I arrived in New Zealand I did not know how to shop or cross the road," she said in a statement read on her behalf.

"I have to be strong for my daughter. I was only just starting my life and now I have a child who has lost her father. When (she) grows up she will ask, 'Where's my father?' How am I going to answer? I don't know. It's a question I'm always thinking of."

The daughter of Linda Armstrong, 65, who was shot and killed inside the Linwood Islamic Centre, said she still felt guilt for not being more understanding of her mother's conversion to Islam.

"Much of this stems from choosing to listen to the media's narrative about Islam, rather than my own mum," Angela Armstrong said.

"Mum tried to tell me about the goodness at the heart of Islam. I'm ashamed to say this led me to not really connecting with my mum's beliefs or her Muslim friends. Therefore I did not have contact with the mosque community when trying to find her on March 15 and days after."

Ms Armstrong said every single bullet fired by Tarrant that day had a "ripple effect".

"The direct result of just two of those bullets left me without my mum," she said.

"I did not get the opportunity to say goodbye to my mum and to tell her I love her one last time and to hug her. You robbed me of my mother, of her love and strength. You will also never again feel the love and warmth of your mother's hug, either. While I have pity for your mum, I have no emotion for you - you are nothing."

The ripple effect of Tarrant's bullets, Ms Armstrong said, was a broader understanding and acceptance of Islam that "flows back to the centre of your crime".

Kyron Gosse, whose aunt was killed in the massacre, called Tarrant a ‘coward’.
Kyron Gosse, whose aunt was killed in the massacre, called Tarrant a ‘coward’.

Linda Armstrong's nephew Kyron Gosse said he was filled with "utter rage" when he learned Tarrant "was a guest to New Zealand".

"He had no issue with Linda Armstrong - he didn't even know her," Mr Gosse said.

"Instead, filled with his own racist agenda, this coward hid behind his big, powerful guns and shot little old Linda from afar. She never even stood a chance."

Mr Gosse said he had been sent the livestream of the attack in the days after and "innocently watched the video not knowing what I was viewing".

"What I saw on that video will haunt me for the rest of my life," he said.

He said he now fears open and crowded spaces and looks for escape routes "should this man or someone like him decide to open fire upon me".

"Knowing a hate-filled low-life like this man could kill me for any reason is my new normal," he said.

Luul Aden Elmi, 52, was in the Al Noor mosque when the shooting started and escaped to a nearby house with a group of other women.

"I heard another lady screaming outside on Deans Avenue, 'Please don't shoot,'" she said in a statement read on her behalf.

"On the driveway on the property I found a lady I knew, dead. I think it was her I heard earlier pleading for her life."

Ms Elmi's husband died in a car accident after just days after the attack.

He had been working in Balclutha more than 400km away and had driven back to Christchurch support her.

As he was making his way back to work he was involved in a single-vehicle accident near Oamaru and died.

"I believe the defendant's actions are part of the reason my husband is now dead," she said.

Originally published as 'Utter rage': Mass killer confronted



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