Gunman in New Zealand kills two people ahead of Women's World Cup

Gunman in New Zealand kills two people ahead of Women's World Cup

July 20, 2023

Gunman in New Zealand kills two people in shotgun rampage hours before Women’s World Cup begins: Shooter is killed by police near teams’ hotels

  • Matu Tangi Mantua Reid, 24, opened fire and killed two people in Auckland

A gunman armed with a shotgun stormed a high-rise construction site in downtown Auckland this morning, shooting at terrified workers and killing two people just hours before New Zealand hosts the Women’s World Cup.

Matu Tangi Matua Reid, 24, shot two people dead and wounded five others with a pump-action shotgun as he tore through the waterfront property in Auckland in a rampage that began at 7.22am and lasted a terrifying 40 minutes.

Terrified construction workers wearing high-vis jackets were seen running for their lives from the building while others who were unable to escape took cover on the building’s roof. 

The city’s busy central district was put under lockdown as armed police officers stormed the building and located Reid, who had barricaded himself in a lift on the top floor. He opened fire at police officers, injuring at least one, before he was shot dead in a tense shootout.

The shooting came hours before the Women’s World Cup is set to begin in Auckland and questions were raised about whether the tournament would be cancelled. 

But New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hopkins said the tournament would go ahead as police did not believe the rampage was linked to the World Cup. 

The shooting happened just a few hundred metres from where the Norwegian football team had been staying ahead of the World Cup. Captain Maren Mjelde said players were woken up by a helicopter and ‘a large number of emergency vehicles’, adding that all the players were safe.

In this image from a video, an injured police officer, second left, is led away to be placed in an ambulance following the shooting 

Matu Tangi Matua Reid, 24, opened fire at construction workers and cops inside the building before he was shot dead after exchanging fire with police officers while barricaded in a lift shift in the early hours of Thursday morning

Police officers stand guard near the location of the shooting in Auckland on Thursday 

Four civilians and at least one police officers were injured in the horrific shooting that came just hours before the Women’s World Cup (pictured) is set to being in the city

‘Everyone seems calm and we are preparing as normal for the game tonight. Then we may have to adapt if there are any instructions from the authorities,’ she said, hours before her team will face hosts New Zealand in the opening match. 

Players from Italy and the United States were also staying close to where the shooting happened, and their training sessions were delayed due to the security lockdown. 

Little is known about the motive of the shooting at the building site, where Reid had been employed, but police said they do not believe it is linked to the World Cup or to have been politically or ideologically motivated.

At the time of the shooting, Reid had been serving a five-month home detention sentence for domestic violence charges but he had an exception to work at the building site. He was known to police and had a history of family violence and mental health issues.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said there was ‘nothing to suggest he presented a higher-level risk’. 

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins expressed his ‘deep sorrow’ at the rare mass shooting in the country but insisted the World Cup, which is being co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia, would go head.

‘Aucklanders and those watching around the world can be assured that the police have neutralised the threat and that they are not seeking anyone else in relation to the incident,’ he said. 

‘The government has spoken to FIFA organisers and the tournament will proceed,’ Hipkins said. ‘New Zealanders’ safety, and the safety of our visitors, are our first priorities.’ 

‘I want to reiterate that there is no wider national security threat. This appears to be the action of one individual.’

Auckland has welcomed thousands of international players and tourists for the ninth Women’s World Cup which is being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

‘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.

Police said Reid made his way through the construction site, firing at the fleeing construction workers, before officers arrived at the scene within minutes and found two people dead. 

After reaching the upper levels of the building, Reid contained himself within a lift shaft on the third floor, where Swat officers spoke to him after securing the floors above and below. 

Reid fired more shots at the officers, seriously injuring one, before cops opened fire and shot the 24-year-old dead. 

‘These kinds of situations move fast and the actions of those who risk their lives to save others are nothing short of heroic,’ Hipkins said.

Armed New Zealand police officer stand at a road block in the central business district following a shooting in Auckland, New Zealand, on Thursday 

Armed police officers run towards the high-rise construction building during the shooting on Thursday

He said it was not yet clear if police had shot the gunman or he had killed himself. He said the gunman did not have a gun licence and so should not have been in possession of a weapon.

Outside, armed police officers had the commercial business district on heavy lockdown with streets cordoned off surrounding the tourist harbour ferry terminal area. Police demanded bystanders disperse and ordered people inside their office buildings to shelter in place.

The incident comes as soccer teams and fans gathered in New Zealand for the Fifa Women’s World Cup.

The opening match is scheduled for Thursday between New Zealand and Norway. Mr Hipkins said he was reviewing whether he would attend the match as planned.

The ban does not include all semi-automatic weapons. Mr Coster said the gunman’s shotgun is not on the list of banned weapons.

Mr Coster said: ‘I want to acknowledge that this has been a shocking and traumatic event for those people who came to work and found themselves in the middle of an armed emergency.

‘Thankfully, many people were able to escape the building, but I know for those who hid or remained trapped, this was a terrifying experience.’

Officials at Eden Park, where the opening match is taking place, said they were encouraging ticket holders to arrive early and there would be an increased security presence at the venue.

Timeline of Auckland shooting:

7:22am: First reports of gunman firing shots at CBD building undergoing construction work in Auckland.

7:41am: Police release statement saying they are responding to a ‘serious incident’. Armed officers at the scene, along with six ambulances.

7.47am: Reports emerge a cop has been injured.

7.53am: A number of construction workers escape the building and flee.

7.58am: Armed police enter the building, with a number of construction workers taking cover on the building’s roof.

8.08am: Construction shots are heard

8.26am: Police say the incident is contained to the one building.

8.46am: Ambulance treat six victims, three of whom have serious injuries

9.46am: Police confirm three people dead including the gunman.

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