TWO Rotherham Advertiser employees have told of their fear after being caught up in the New Zealand terror attack in which 49 people were shot dead.
Father and daughter Jamie and Kim Ollivent were in the middle of their two-week trip and were staying with relatives in Christchurch when the country’s deadliest shooting broke out.
Advertiser operations director Jamie and sales representative Kim were near to Al-Noor and Linwood city centre mosques when the gunman opened fire — killing 49 people and wounding at least 20 others. Another victim is reported to have died in hospital.
Jamie and Kim were on the opposite side of the park to where the attack happened and were then locked in an art gallery for three hours.
Jamie (62) said: “It was quite strange really. We weren’t meant to be in Christchurch yesterday, but had changed our plans because of the rain. There was a protest about the environment going on and other than that it was quiet. It was so quiet Kim said she thought it must be half day closing.
“We went round a corner and two police cars came speeding past, which is unusual here because nothing really happens. We were by an art gallery and they said we had better come inside. We said we didn’t know what was going on and they told us there had been a terrorist attack. The mosque was on the other side of the park from where we were, but we could have been a million miles away.
“We were locked in the gallery for about three hours and everybody was on their phones and talking about what had happened, just in shock. Eventually, after about three hours, we left through a side door but we shouldn’t have done really.
“We walked towards the city and there was no-one about at all. We walked for about half a mile to the car park and didn’t see anyone. It was really spooky. It was like a ghost town. We drove back to the house where we are staying just outside Christchurch and watched it all on TV. The people we are staying with, her daughter’s son knows a Muslim lad who was shot, but he’s okay apart from injuring his shoulder.
“Everyone is in shock. People are really really upset. It’s a nice quiet place and you don’t expect this to happen here. They had the earthquake in 2011 and they are still rebuilding from that. You just don’t expect it to happen.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the shootings as a “terrorist attack” and one of the country’s “darkest hours”.
A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and three more people were in custody, the BBC reported
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described one alleged gunman, who had Australian citizenship, as an “extremist, right-wing” terrorist.
The shooting was the deadliest in the country’s history.
One gunman live-streamed footage on social media of him firing at men, women and children from close range inside the Al-Noor mosque.
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