As worshipers at a New Zealand mosque fled for cover and fought to survive while under fire from a gunman appearing to target Muslims, community members rushed to help in any way they could.
Carl Pomare told the New Zealand Herald he and an employee were driving along Deans Ave when they noticed people running away from a mosque in Christchurch Friday
“I said to my mate, ‘S***, what do you think is happening here?’ Then we head the bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,” Pomare said.
Pomare, a South Island manager for Naki Labour Hire, told the paper people were being shot as they ran, and neither the police nor ambulances had yet to arrive on the scene. “I said to my mate, ‘We need to do something,’” he said.
The pair rushed to help some of the many injured and took matters into their own hands when they came across a 5-year-old girl who had been shot.
“She was critical, and her father had also been shot. He was nursing her,” Pomare said, describing the scene as “absolute carnage.”
He rushed the pair to the hospital while his friend tried tending to others.
"My worker was nursing a guy who had been shot in the back three times for about half an hour, saying, 'Hang in there buddy,’” Pomare said. “He passed away in his arms."
Other good Samaritans also stopped to help the victims.
“I put the pressure on [a person’s wound] and a nice Muslim guy came and gave me some help as well and you had to put quite a bit of pressure on and I was – my poor hands were shaking,” a rattled woman told the BBC after the chaotic scene had been contained.
At least 49 people were killed and more than 40 others were injured in the shooting, which police said was carried out by a man in his 20s who apparently livestreamed the attack on Facebook and posted a manifesto online as well. He was taken into custody and charged with murder, officials said.
Two explosive devices were also allegedly attached to a vehicle, police said.
Two other men and a woman were also taken into custody in connection to the shooting, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
One of the people taken into custody was Australian, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia said.
"I just can't believe it has happened,” Pomare said. “We put ourselves at risk, but in the spur of the moment you don't think of your own safety, just these bodies that were lying there, just ordinary people."