NZ Police Boss Says Christchurch Terrorist Was En Route To A Third Shooting

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush has asserted the chief suspect in the Christchurch terrorist attack was on his way to a planned third shooting location when police authorities apprehended him.

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Bush fronted media earlier today and praised the efforts of the officers who captured the accused, a task that was compounded by the fact the accused was reportedly still heavily armed at the time of his arrest.

Bush made the extraordinary claim that police investigators believe he had further planned attacks, and that his arrest almost certainly prevented more lives from being lost.

We strongly believe we stopped him on the way to a further attack. So lives were saved by our staff [who were] courageous in their intervention.

The accused terrorist was apprehended by two rural officers following the shootings at the Deans Avenue and Linwood Avenue mosques that left 50 people dead and scores of others injured.

Commissioner Bush confirmed that New Zealand police responded quickly to the initial reports and ascertained where the accused was headed, which lead to his swift apprehension. He declined to confirm where the shooter was reportedly heading.

Within 10 minutes, the armed offender’s squad were on the scene ready to respond. Within 21 minutes, the person that is now in custody was arrested – 21 minutes from when we were first notified.

Work to formally identify and release the bodies of the victims has been a slow process, Bush also confirmed, owing largely to the need to establish a firm cause of death in order to bolster the criminal case against the accused.

Our number one priority is the victims and their families, but we do of course have other obligations. If we get that wrong, that is unforgivable.

[We are] not just delivering to the coroner an evidential standard for identification, we must prove for prosecution the cause of death to the satisfaction to the coroner, to the judge.

You cannot convict for murder without that cause of death.

The Commissioner confirmed that 21 victims had been formally identified and processed last night, with a further six expected to be cleared by midday local time today. “The majority,” he says, will be cleared and released to families by tonight.