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March 17, 2019

Heroes of Christchurch attack

National

March 17, 2019

CHRISTCHURCH: A heroic father grabbed accused terrorist Brenton Tarrant's gun and forced him away from a mosque - bringing an end to the gunman's killing spree.

Abdul Aziz, 48, is being hailed a hero for preventing more deaths at the Linwood mosque after scaring the alleged killer into his car.

But Aziz, whose four sons remained in the mosque while he faced off Tarrant, said he thinks it is what anyone would have done, international media reported. Reliving the attack, Aziz said he ran outside screaming in a bid to cause a distraction.

He said the gunman ran back to his car to get another gun, so he threw a credit card machine at him.

He said he could hear his two youngest sons, 11 and five, urging him to come back inside. The gunman returned firing but Mr Aziz said he ran past parked cars which prevented him from being shot.

Aziz spotted a gun the attacker had dropped and picked it up. He pointed it and squeezed the trigger but it was empty. He said the gunman ran back to the car for a second time to grab another weapon.

“He gets into his car and I just got the gun and threw it on his window like an arrow and blasted his window,” he said. “The windshield shattered, that's why he got scared.” He said the gunman was cursing at him, yelling that he was going to kill them all.

But he drove away and Aziz said he chased the car down the street to a red light before it made a U-turn and sped away.

Online videos indicate police officers managed to force the car from the road and drag out the suspect soon after. Aziz, originally from Kabul, said he left as a refugee when he was a boy and lived for more than 25 years in Australia before moving to New Zealand a couple of years ago.

It comes after another hero emerged yesterday.

Naeem Rashid, a resident of Abbottabad, died after trying to wrestle a gun from the shooter. It was later revealed his son was also a victim of the terror attack. Rashid tried to overpower the gunman during the mass shooting at Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch on Friday afternoon.

The hero was left badly wounded after he launched himself at the shooter in a bid to protect fellow worshippers.

He was rushed to hospital following the attack, but died late Friday night. Rashid worked with a private bank in Abbottabad before he moved to Christchurch to work as a teacher. Rashid’s 21-year-old son, Talha, also lost his life during the mass shooting. Dr Khursheed Alam confirmed to a private TV channel that his brother Rashid and nephew Talha had been killed in the attack. Pakistan's High Commission in Wellington earlier confirmed that four Pakistani men were wounded and five others missing.

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