By Reuters: At least two people and an armed attacker were killed and six others wounded in a shooting in New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland on Thursday, hours ahead of the opening match of the Women’s Soccer World Cup in the city.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the soccer tournament would proceed as planned, adding the shooting appeared to be the actions of an individual and that police were not seeking anyone else in relation to the incident.
“There was no identified political or ideological motivation for the shooting and therefore no national security risk,” Hipkins said during a televised media briefing.
There would be no change to New Zealand’s security threat level although there would be an increased police presence in the city, he said.
Police said the shooter in Auckland was armed with a pump-action shotgun, moved through the building site and, after reaching the upper levels, “contained himself within the elevator shaft.”
“Further shots were fired from the male and he was located deceased a short time later,” police said.
Auckland welcomed thousands of international players and tourists for the ninth Women’s World Cup which is being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
In the two opening matches on Thursday, Norway plays New Zealand in Auckland while Australia faces Ireland in Sydney.
The shooting took place near the Norwegian team hotel in downtown Auckland, and several players took to social media to report they were safe.
“All seems calm, and we are preparing as normal for the match tonight,” Norway captain Maren Mjelde told Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang during the police operation.
Italy team’s training has been delayed as players cannot get out of their hotel, while the U.S. team said all its players and staff were accounted for and safe.
Douglas Emhoff, the husband of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris who is leading the presidential delegation to New Zealand for the opening ceremony of the World Cup, is safe, the U.S. embassy said.
Several streets in Auckland were cordoned off, all ferry services into the city were cancelled, and buses were asked to detour some areas of the city.
A FIFA Fan Festival event just a few blocks from the shooting was also delayed.
“This appears to be the act of one individual. This was not a threat to national security, nor was it in any way related to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Event,” Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown said in a statement.
Gun violence is rare in New Zealand, which tightened its gun laws after a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch in 2019 in the country’s worst peace-time mass shooting.
The government has banned all military-style semi-automatics and other deadly guns.