July 19, 2023 –A shooting has left two people dead in the centre of Auckland, New Zealand, hours before the city is due to open the Fifa Women’s World Cup.
Six other people, including police officers, were injured and the gunman is also dead after the incident at 07:22 (19:22 GMT) on a construction site in the central business district.
PM Chris Hipkins said the attack was not being seen as an act of terrorism.
The tournament would go ahead as planned, he said.
The public, he added, could be assured police had neutralized the threat and there was no ongoing risk after the incident on Queen Street.
No political or ideological motive for the attack had been identified, the prime minister said.
The gunman, he said, had been armed with a pump-action shotgun.
Mr. Hipkins thanked “the brave men and women of the New Zealand police who ran into the gunfire, straight into harm’s way, in order to save the lives of others”.
“These kinds of situations move fast and the actions of those who risk their lives to save others are nothing short of heroic,” he added.
According to Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown, all Fifa personnel and football teams are safe and have been accounted for.
The opening match will be held between New Zealand and Norway in the city’s Eden Park.
Sports Minister Grant Robertson said there would be extra police in the area to provide reassurance.
The ninth Women’s World Cup is being co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia.
- Biggest Women’s World Cup set to get underway
Earlier, the mayor warned people should stay home and avoid traveling into the city. Mr. Brown said it was a “dreadful thing to happen” in his city.
Police say they heard reports of a person discharging a firearm inside the construction site, and the gunman moved through the building and continued to fire.
The man then went into a lift shaft and police attempted to engage with him.
Further shots were fired by the man and he was found dead a short time later, police say.
Following the shooting there was a large armed police presence in the central business district not far from the waterfront and the fan park.
Tatjana Haenni, chief sporting director for National Women’s Soccer League USA, is staying close to where the shooting happened.
She told BBC News she had woken up to the sounds of police cars arriving and was told to stay inside. “So far we feel safe,” she said.