Auckland: At least two people and an armed assailant were killed and six others injured in a shooting in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland on Thursday, hours before the opening match of the Women’s Football World Cup.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the football tournament would go ahead as planned. He said the firing appeared to be the act of an individual and the police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. There will be no change to New Zealand’s security threat level, he said, although there will be an increased police presence in the city. Police said the shooter in Auckland was armed with a pump-action shotgun, walked through the construction site and, after reaching an upper level, “contained himself within an elevator shaft.”
Police said more shots were fired from the shooter and he was found dead a short time later. Auckland welcomed thousands of international players and tourists for the ninth Women’s World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. In two opening matches on Thursday, Norway will play New Zealand in Auckland while Australia take on Ireland in Sydney. The shooting occurred near the Norwegian team hotel in downtown Auckland and several players reported on social media that they were safe.
“Everything looks calm, and we are preparing normally for tonight’s match,” Norway captain Maren Mjelde told Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang during the police operation. The Italian team’s training has been delayed because players cannot leave their hotels, while the US team said all its players and staff were safe.
Many streets in Auckland have been cordoned off. All ferry services in the city were canceled and buses were asked to ply around some areas of the city. Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown said in a statement, “It appears to be the act of one person. It was not a threat to national security, nor was it related to the FIFA Women’s World Cup event in any way.”