Two individuals and a gunman were fatally shot, while five others sustained injuries in a shooting incident in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city.
The attack occurred just hours before the start of the Women’s World Cup in the same city.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins stated that the tournament would continue as scheduled, noting that the shooting seemed to be the work of a lone individual and that the police were not searching for any other suspects.
“There was no identified political or ideological motivation for the shooting and therefore no national security risk,” Hipkins said during a televised media briefing.
He stated that although there will be more police in the city, New Zealand’s security threat level will remain unchanged. Auckland is currently hosting the ninth Women’s World Cup, which is being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, attracting numerous international players and tourists.
“Obviously we would prefer it not to have started in this way,” Hipkins told journalists later in the day.
“It will be acknowledged what happened today at the opening ceremony. And I will be going, it is safe to go and we continue to encourage the whole community to get behind this,” he said.
The shooter, who is suspected to be a 24-year-old man working at the construction site, has not been officially identified, according to Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.
He was carrying a pump-action shotgun and went on a shooting spree throughout the building site. After reaching the higher floors, he barricaded himself in an elevator shaft and continued firing before being discovered dead shortly after.
One police officer and four civilians were injured in the incident. The gunman had been sentenced to home detention but had been granted permission to work at the site.
“The individual is known for primarily family violence history. There is nothing to suggest that he has presented a higher-level risk than was indicated by that history,” Coster said.
At the time of the shooting, football teams from New Zealand, Norway, Italy, the U.S., Vietnam, and Portugal were present in the city.
“FIFA has been informed that this was an isolated incident that was not related to football operations and the opening match tonight at Eden Park will proceed as planned,” FIFA said in a statement to Reuters.
“The participating teams in close proximity to this incident are being supported in relation to any impact that may have taken place.”
Norway will be playing against New Zealand in Auckland, while Australia will be facing Ireland in Sydney in the first two World Cup matches on Thursday.