Mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers killed at least 50 people in Christchurch, while several explosive devices were defused, in what appeared to be a carefully planned terrorist attack.
The attack was one of the deadliest in New Zealand's modern history. A video of the massacre was also live-streamed by the attacker.
In the middle of this, a local man emerged as a hero for singlehandedly trying to get the shooter to leave the mosque.
Abdul Aziz, a furniture shop owner, was at the Linwood Mosque when the shooter opened fire on people praying inside.
Aziz, after hearing the shots bravely carried on and picked up a credit card reader off a table to use as a weapon before seeing the bodies of two people in a nearby pathway.
After spotting the shooter who was heading towards his car to get hold of a second gun, Aziz hurled the machine at him.
The shooter then got his new gun and started shooting at Aziz about four or five times - but the latter was able to duck between cars.
Aziz spotted the shotgun which had been abandoned by the shooter and chased him as the attacker returned to his car for a second time to get another weapon.
When the shooter saw that Aziz had a gun he ran back to his car.
"The gun I had in my hand, the shotgun, I just threw it at him like a spear at his window. His window blasted and he got really shocked - he thought I had shot at him or something," said Aziz in an interview.
"And then he just swore at me and drove off [while I was] still chasing with the gun," Aziz added.
Seven people died at the Linwood Islamic Centre - the second of two mosques targeted by the shooter in the New Zealand city.
Latef Alabi, the Linwood mosque’s acting imam, said the death toll would have been far higher at the Linwood mosque if it wasn’t for Aziz.
Aziz denied he was a hero, saying: "I don't think I'm a hero because if I was not there somebody else would do the same thing. That's part of humanity, to help another human".
Abdul Aziz tells Sky News how he chased away the Christchurch attacker during the mosque shootings.For more on this story, head here: https://t.co/AoXkOumppv pic.twitter.com/p1H6fG3bJI— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 17, 2019
Originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, Aziz left there when he was a boy and lived in Australia for more than 25 years before moving to New Zealand a couple of years ago. The community in his new nation is now recognizing this man for his bravery.
Dodging bullets, Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah confronted the New Zealand shooter and saved lives. The father of 4 said: "I got to be honest with you, it wasn't me, it was God that saved everybody. God saved everyone." https://t.co/65eNAVj9CP pic.twitter.com/oosEbYpjKb— Amir Vera (@TheAmirVera) March 16, 2019
An immigrant from Afghanistan, Abdul Aziz, is being hailed as a hero for saving lives in New Zealand mosque by rushing at the shooter, scaring him off, say witnesses. “He went after him, and he managed to overpower him, and that's how we were saved” https://t.co/34U6M2FayK— Niraj Warikoo (@nwarikoo) March 16, 2019
This is Abdul Aziz, a hero, who safed so many life in the #Christchurch attack. Originally from #Afghanistan he confranted, chased and forced the attaker to escape. He was empty handed, but a heart full of love. The world call him a hero but he says that he did his civic duty. pic.twitter.com/rqICs4x3JI— M. Shafiq Hamdam (@shafiqhamdam) March 17, 2019
Oh wow this hero - Abdul Aziz, a father of four - ran towards the murderer, trying to draw his attention away from the other worshippers. Unbelievable bravery and selflessness. Wow. pic.twitter.com/Xt5TrYB86S— Batya Ungar-Sargon (@bungarsargon) March 17, 2019
“He said the gunman was cursing at him and yelled that he was going to kill them all. But he drove away and Mr Aziz said he chased the car down the street to a red light, before it made a U-turn and sped away.”He. Chased. The. Car.#hero #AbdulAziz #Kiwi— James Nokise (@JamesNokise) March 16, 2019
amid the grief and fury, the chaos and division, i'm trying to give my attention to the stories of love, generosity, solidarity, and awe-inspiring courage. Abdul Aziz is a hero. https://t.co/DUXa3whIUo— (@rahera_k) March 16, 2019
Abdul Aziz is from Afghanistan. Our people have warrior hearts ♥️ Hope he receives every bit of love and recognition he deserves. https://t.co/CX6VJiXUrb— Shireen Qudosi (@ShireenQudosi) March 17, 2019
Well done Abdul Aziz!In my work I get to see people do brave things regularly.This is next level. A man with no training taking on an armed attacker who had killed 49 people- & winning! With a credit card machine.#Herohttps://t.co/JqPshZUjvC— Fire Chief Darrell Reid (@FireChiefReid) March 16, 2019