The cousin of the man accused of the worst mass murder in New Zealand’s history says her once ‘normal’ relative has a ‘twisted mind’ and deserves to die.
New South Wales woman Donna Cox says it ‘hurts’ to be related to Brenton Tarrant, 28, after he allegedly killed 50 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch on Friday.
Tarrant faced court on Saturday, smirking and giving a white supremacist sign as he was charged with one count of murder.
Now, with more charges likely to come, members of his family are condemning his alleged acts.
The family of accused terrorist Brenton Tarrant (pictured) have condemned the attacks. Here he is pictured in court making a white supremacist sign
Cousin Donna Cox (pictured) says she is in disbelief over the attacks, and that accused gunman Brenton Tarrant should be given the death penalty
Tarrant (pictured as a teen) will never comprehend the impact the alleged attacks have had against his parents in their hometown of Grafton, his cousin said
Tarrant will never comprehend the impact the alleged attacks have had against his parents in their hometown of Grafton, Ms Cox told Sunday Night.
‘Just what he’s putting his family through. That he is from… a very respected family, his mum, his dad, were pretty high in the community here,’ she said.
‘He wasn’t raised like that, but I’m not here to defend him. If I could ask him – I’d ask him why. How could you do that?
‘That’s a twisted mind right there. You’d have to be to be able to do something like that.’
Tarrant’s mother, Sharon, is a teacher at a local school. She had to be whisked away by police mid-class when reports of the attack first came through on Friday.
She and Tarrant’s sister, Lauren, have been placed under police protection, without even mobile phone contact with the rest of their family.
As a child, Tarrant was obsessed with guns and violent video games, Ms Cox said.
His father, a local garbageman who died from cancer in 2010, was widely-liked in the community.
After his father’s death, Tarrant began travelling around Europe. Bulgarian and Turkish authorities are investigating his travel history, determining whether he had ulterior motives for frequenting their countries over the span of seven years.
Somewhere along his journeys, he allegedly forged extremist views and a deep seated hatred for non-white immigration, a hatred that culminated in Friday’s attacks.
Tarrant will re-appear in New Zealand’s High Court on April 5, when additional charges are expected to be laid.
‘I know what he deserves. He deserves the death penalty for what he’s done. That hurts because he is family,’ Ms Cox said.
Tarrant was arrested on the sidewalk by two training police officers on Friday after he allegedly shot and killed 50 Muslim worshipers
Meanwhile, a relative, who asked to remain anonymous, told Daily Mail Australia the Grafton community is shaken.
‘Everyone is confused and hurt and angry. I’m heartbroken, I’m shattered,’ she said.
‘I hate him so much right now. If I saw him I’d punch him in the face as hard as I could. He wasn’t raised to be a racist, no-one made him this way.
‘His parents are beautiful people.’
They said the reason behind the attacks may never be revealed, but is adamant he was ‘influenced’.
‘I want to know where it’s come from because it certainly didn’t come from his family or his friends here,’ they said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hugs a mosque-goer at the Kilbirnie Mosque on Sunday, as she meets with members of the Islamic community
The Prime Minister lays a wreath at the mosque, as 50 people are confirmed dead following the tragic shooting including children, a renowned heart surgeon and a talented sportsman
Candlelit vigils have been held across the globe to mourn those who lost their lives. Pictured is a prayer vigil in Melbourne on Saturday night
Other relatives, including Tarrant’s grandmother Marie Fitzgerald and uncle Terry Fitzgerald, broke their silence on Sunday.
Mrs Fitzgerald said she was stilling coming to grips with what had happened.
‘It’s just so much of everything to take in that somebody in our family would do anything like this,’ the 81-year-old woman told Nine News.
‘The media is saying he has planned it for a long time so he is obviously not of sound mind.’
She and Mr Fitzgerald apologised on behalf of their family to the victims of the massacre, saying: ‘What he has done is just not right.’
Other relatives, including Tarrant’s grandmother Marie Fitzgerald and uncle Terry Fitzgerald (pictured) broke their silence on Sunday
Joyce Tarrant, 94, said the alleged cold-blooded killer who filmed himself gunning down Muslims during Friday prayers was not the grandson she knew
Authorities have confirmed the death toll has reached 50. Above ambulance staff are seen taking a man from outside the mosque
The shooter’s weapons were marked with the names of other people who have carried out attacks
Tarrant grew up in Grafton, with many of his classmates remembering the now-28-year-old as a popular student.
‘He was funny and one of the popular kids, very smart and outgoing,’ a high school friend said.
‘There was nothing odd about him at school. He was very much a prankster and very large with curly hair until he got into fitness.’
Another of his cousins, who also asked to remain anonymous, said he was a ‘chubby’ child because he was obsessed with computers.
They said he spent all his time playing violent video games, at least once being so engrossed he wet himself instead of stopping to go to the toilet.
However, by his last years of school he was increasingly interested in fitness and described as a popular prankster.
He allegedly tore through two mosques in Christchurch, shooting five different guns at hundreds of worshippers, killing 50 and injuring 47 others.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the attacks fell on ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’ and has vowed to tighten gun laws.
TIMELINE OF TERROR: HOW THE CHRISTCHURCH MASSACRE THAT CLAIMED 50 LIVES UNFOLDED
A 28-year-old Australian man entered a mosque in central Christchurch on Friday afternoon and opened fire on people gathered inside the building – killing 50 people and leaving dozens more injured.
This is how the incident unfolded in local New Zealand Time.
1.40pm: First reports of a shooting at a mosque in central Christchurch.
A man entered the mosque with an automatic weapon and opened fire on people inside.
2.11pm: Police confirmed they were attending an ‘evolving situation’ in Christchruch.
Gunshots are heard in the area outside Masid Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue.
Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots, with one saying she attempted to give CPR to an injured person but they died.
2.17pm: Multiple schools went into lockdown in Christchurch.
People who were in the mosque began to leave covered in blood and with gunshot wounds.
2.47pm: First reports of six people dead, three in a critical condition and three with serious injuries.
2.54pm: Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the situation is ‘serious and evolving’ and told people to remain indoors and stay off the streets.
The Canterbury District Health Board activated its mass casualty plan.
3.12pm: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cancelled her afternoon arrangements.
3.21pm: Christchurch City Council locked down many of their central city buildings.
3.33pm: First reports of a bomb in a beige Subaru that crashed on Strickland Street, three kilometres from the shootings.
3.40pm: Police confirmed there were multiple simultaneous attacks on mosques in Christchurch.
3.45pm: Reports of multiple shots fired at the shootings, which are ongoing.
3.59pm: 300 people were reported to be inside the moque.
4.00pm: One person is confirmed to be in custody but there are warnings there may be others out there.
Police commissioner Mike Bush urges Muslims across New Zealand to stay away from their local mosque.
4.10pm: Jacinda Ardern calls Friday ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’.
5.27pm: First reports of a second shooting.
A witness said a Muslim local chased the shooters at the mosque in Linwood, firing in ‘self defence’.
5.31pm: Four people are confirmed to be in custody. including one woman.
Multiple fatalities were reported.
7.07pm: It was confirmed an AR15 rifle was used in the attack.
7.20pm: Dunedin Street was cordoned off.
Reports the attackers planned to also target the Al Huda Mosque.
7.26pm: At least 40 people were confirmed dead, Jacinda Ardern confirmed.
7.34pm: Confirmed that 48 people were being treated in hospital.
7.46pm: Britomart train station in central Auckland was evacuated after bags were found unattended.
The bags were deemed not suspicious.
8.35pm: New Zealand’s Government confirmed this is the first time ever the terror level has been lifted from low to high.
9.03pm: Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirms that the death toll has risen to 49.
Brenton Tarrant was later charged with murder, and the death toll has since risen to 50.