Auckland supermarket shooting: Knifeman had warned he would hunt 'Kiwi scum'

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This is the terrifying moment New Zealand police shoot dead a ‘violent extremist’ who was ‘inspired by ISIS’ after he launched a stabbing attack in an Auckland supermarket, wounding six.   

Footage shows police confronting the 32-year-old Sri Lankan man, identified only as ‘S’ for legal reasons, at the Countdown supermarket in New Lynn, in the country’s south.

The six injured were left fighting for life in hospitals across New Zealand’s north island on Friday afternoon. Three of the victims were described as being in a ‘critical’ condition, with neck and chest wounds, after hero shoppers rushed to give first aid to the wounded.

The knifeman is known to have posted a warning to ‘Kiwi scums’ on social media after receiving a formal warning from police over his disturbing internet searches and purchases.  

‘One day I will go back to my country and I will find Kiwi scums in my country… and I will show them… what will happen when you mess with S while I’m in their country. If you’re tough in your country… we are tougher in our country scums,’ he wrote.

On Friday, the man was followed by police from his home all the way to the supermarket where he grabbed a knife from a shelf and started the attack. 

There had been fears of an imminent terror attack in the wake of the Taliban takeover and the chaotic departure of Western powers from Afghanistan, with extremists emboldened by the radical Islamists’ return to power. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed that the suspect was considered one of the nation’s most dangerous extremists and had been watched 24/7 since 2016, adding she was ‘gutted’ he was able to carry out the attack despite being on the terror watchlist. 

Six people were rushed to hospitals across New Zealand's north island on Friday afternoon while the knifeman died inside the Countdown supermarket in New Lynn

Six people were rushed to hospitals across New Zealand’s north island on Friday afternoon while the knifeman died inside the Countdown supermarket in New Lynn

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed on Friday the 32-year-old Sri Lankan national (pictured) was considered one of the nation's most dangerous extremists and was watched 24/7 since 2016. He arrived in New Zealand in 2011

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed on Friday the Sri Lankan national was an extremist who was on terrorism watch since 2016

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (right) revealed on Friday the 32-year-old Sri Lankan national (left) was considered one of the nation’s most dangerous extremists and was watched 24/7 since 2016. He arrived in New Zealand in 2011

Due to suppression orders that are already in place, the prime minister says there is information about the man's identity  (pictured) and past that cannot yet be revealed

Due to suppression orders that are already in place, the prime minister says there is information about the man’s identity  (pictured) and past that cannot yet be revealed

Six people were left fighting for life in hospitals across New Zealand’s north island on Friday afternoon while the knifeman died inside the Countdown supermarket in New Lynn

He arrived in New Zealand in 2011, but he had not committed sufficient crimes to be detained by authorities before the attack.

‘What happened today was despicable, hateful and wrong,’ she said. ‘It was carried out by an individual, not a faith or religion. He was gripped by violent and ISIS-inspired ideology that is not supported here.

‘This was a violent attack. It was senseless. And I am so sorry that it happened.’ 

A surveillance team and special tactics group monitored the man at all times and plain clothes officers were able to shoot and kill him within 60 seconds of launching the attack after detectives were so close they ‘heard’ the commotion.

Due to suppression orders that are already in place, Ardern says there is information about the man’s identity and details of his past criminal history that cannot yet be revealed.  

She vowed to share any further details ‘within the confines of the law’ if the court lifted suppression orders in the wake of his death.

But Auckland’s mayor Phil Goff said it is ‘frustrating’ that Ardern cannot reveal more details about the attacker.

The prime minister said: ‘He was known to our national security agencies, was of concern and was being monitored constantly. There are very few people that fall into this category.’

She reiterated that if the offender had committed a crime in the past that would have allowed authorities to put him in prison, ‘that’s where he would have been’. 

Police guard the area around Countdown LynnMall in Auckland after a violent extremist arried cout a terrorist attack on Friday

Police guard the area around Countdown LynnMall in Auckland after a violent extremist arried cout a terrorist attack on Friday

‘ISIS-INSPIRED’ TERRORIST’S CRIMINAL PAST 

The knifeman who was shot dead in a Countdown supermarket on Friday was known to police and politicians for his extremist views, which were largely inspired by terror group, ISIS.

The man, known only as ‘S’ due to High Court suppression orders, arrived in New Zealand in 2011 from Sri Lanka and was first placed on the terror watchlist in 2016 after authorities were alerted to extremist posts he made on social media. 

Some of the videos he shared online depicted war-related violence, a clear approval of violent extremism and pledging his support for ISIS, New Zealand Herald reported.

He received an official warning by police but continued to post the material, including a comment which read: ‘One day I will go back to my country and I will find kiwi scums in my country… and I will show them… what will happen when you mess with S while I’m in their country. If you’re tough in your country… we are tougher in our country scums #payback’.

‘S’ reportedly told a worshiper at a mosque that he hoped to join ISIS in Syria and was detained at Auckland International Airport in 2017 after booking a one-way flight to Singapore.  

He spent a year in custody before pleading guilty to distributing restricted material, earning a supervision order in 2018.

The day after he was released from prison, ‘S’ was arrested by counterterrorism police who followed him as he purchased a hunting knife. 

Internet search history reportedly found he’d researched how to kill ‘non-believers’.    

Police hoped to prosecute ‘S’ under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, but it was determined that preparing a terrorist attack was not an offence under the legislation, given he had not carried out any attacks.  

He was prosecuted on lesser charges of possessing propaganda in support of ISIS.

During his trial, ‘S’ reportedly told the jury: ‘You’re worried about one knife, I am telling you I will buy 10 knives. It’s about my rights.’ 

S had reportedly performed internet searches asking about the guidelines of ‘lone-wolf mujahideen’, knife attacks and prison conditions in New Zealand.

‘The reason he was in the community is because within the law we could not put him anywhere else. His past behaviour was, within the threshold of the law, not enough to put him in prison.’ 

The attack has stirred painful memories of the Christchurch mosque shootings in March 2019, New Zealand’s worst terror atrocity, when a white supremacist gunman murdered 51 Muslim worshippers and severely wounded another 40. 

Ardern said: ‘The fact that he was in the community will be an illustration that we haven’t succeeded in using the law to the extent we would have liked. 

‘I know that we’ve been doing everything that we could, so I was absolutely gutted.’

The 32-year-old offender reportedly landed himself on terror watchlists after twice buying hunting knives and being found to possess Islamic State propaganda videos, NZHerald reported. 

Just last month, he was sentenced to a one year supervision order for possessing propaganda videos created by the Islamic State that promoted terrorism. 

He had reportedly performed internet searches asking about the guidelines of ‘lone-wolf mujahideen’, knife attacks and prison conditions in New Zealand. 

‘S’ had reportedly told worshipers in his mosque that he intended to join ISIS and was arrested at Auckland Airport in May 2017 after booking a one-way ticket to Singapore. 

The outlet revealed he had only recently been released from prison after a High Court judge ruled preparing a terrorist attack was not equitable to performing a terrorist act and sentenced him on a lesser charge.

The day after he walked free from prison, ‘S’ purchased yet another hunting knife. He was arrested again, but was not prosecuted under the strict terrorism laws. 

Ardern reiterated several times on Friday afternoon that the Countdown attack was the work of ‘an individual, not a faith’. 

Disturbing footage of the attack was shared online, showing customers running to safety as at least 10 police units swarmed the surrounding streets. 

‘Holy f**k. Oh my God… Someone is in there with a knife, somebody has been stabbed,’ a woman said in the footage 

A witness said people were ‘running out, hysterically, just screaming, yelling, scared’ as an elderly man laid injured on the floor and a middle-aged woman was stabbed in the shoulder.

One bystander video taken from inside the supermarket records the sound of 10 shots being fired in rapid succession. 

The offender was reportedly acting ‘like a lunatic’ and indiscriminately lunging at anybody in his path, the witness said. 

Another woman said she heard police ordering the offender to surrender before five gunshots rang out. 

Two officers were involved in shooting him dead.  

The three victims who remain in a critical condition were rushed to Auckland City hospital along with a fourth person in a serious condition. 

One victim in a stable condition was taken to Waitakere Hospital while another was rushed to Middlemore Hospital.  

Two of the victims were rushed straight into emergency abdominal surgery.

At least 20 frantic Countdown customers fled to safety at nearby Unichem Pharmacy, which was already brimming with about 45 patients waiting to get their Covid jab.

Staff immediately locked the doors and called for help.

‘It wasn’t a nice scenario. Everyone was pretty shocked and worried, but everybody is fine,’ a staff member said. 

At least 10 police units were quickly on the scene and surrounded the shopping precinct before the knifeman was shot dead. 

At least 10 police units were quickly on the scene and surrounded the shopping precinct before the knifeman was shot dead

At least 10 police units were quickly on the scene and surrounded the shopping precinct before the knifeman was shot dead

Roads near the area have been blocked by officers, who are still investigating

Roads near the area have been blocked by officers, who are still investigating

Customers fled the supermarket and witnesses reported chaotic scenes as police shot the knifeman dead

Customers fled the supermarket and witnesses reported chaotic scenes as police shot the knifeman dead

The Masjid e Bilal mosque, just five kilometers away from the supermarket, is also surrounded by armed police and is believed to form part of the police investigation. 

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown supermarket’s general manager of safety, released a statement on Friday afternoon stating her ‘heart was heavy knowing what our team and customers have witnessed’. 

‘We are particularly devastated that something like this has happened again in one of our stores. It’s difficult to comprehend and the events of today leave our whole team in deep shock,’ she said.

Just four months ago, four customers were stabbed in a random attack at a Dunedin Countdown on the nation’s south island. 

A 42-year-old alleged offender was arrested at the time and remains before the courts. 

‘The safety of our team, and our customers, is always our priority, and this is at the heart of our COVID-19 response as well. We will cooperate with the Police in any way we can to understand what’s happened, and at this point we’re unable to provide any further details.’ 

Auckland is currently in a strict lockdown as it battles an outbreak of the coronavirus. Most businesses are shut and people are generally allowed to leave their homes only to buy groceries, for medical needs or to exercise. 

The store will be closed until further notice.  

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