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Dodging bullets, a father of 4 confronted the New Zealand shooter and saved lives

A man describes his encounter with the suspect of the Christchurch, New Zealand, mass shootings.

Posted: Mar 17, 2019 4:10 PM
Updated: Mar 17, 2019 4:10 PM

Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah was praying with his four children at the Linwood mosque in Christchurch on Friday when the gunfire started.

Friday is the busiest day of the week for mosques around the world, when Muslims convene for Friday prayers. Wahabzadah told CNN he ran outside as soon as he heard the shots, grabbing a credit card reader along the way. He confronted a man in "army clothes" armed with guns and a camera.

To distract the shooter from the mosque, Wahabzadah said he threw the credit card reader.

"I just wanted to scare him so he doesn't come inside," he said. Unfortunately the shooter did make it in.

The credit card reader hit the shooter, who then ran back to the parking lot and began firing at Wahabzadah. The shooter dropped the first gun -- which Wahabzadah described as a shotgun -- and started shooting with the second. The gunman couldn't get a good angle on Wahabzadah, he said, because Wahabzadah was ducking between cars and a fence.

Thinking the shooter was going to a car to get more weapons, Wahabzadah said he picked up the dropped gun, ran after the man and tried to pull the trigger, but realized the gun was empty.

"When he sees me ... chasing with a gun, he sat in his car," Wahabzadah said. "And I just got the gun and throw it on his window like an arrow and blast his window. And he thought probably I shot him or something and ... he drove off."

Wahabzadah didn't stop there. He said he continued chasing the shooter, who did a U-turn and raced off. It was then that Wahabzadah says he returned to the mosque to discover the scope of the violence.

Eight people died after being shot at the Linwood mosque. Another 42 died at the Al Noor Mosque. In total, 50 people died as a result of the two mass shootings Friday.

Latef Alabi, the imam at Linwood, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that were it not for Wahabzadah's actions, the death toll would have been higher.

'God saved everyone'

The shooter was identified as Brenton Tarrant, 28, of Australia. He has been charged with one count of murder and will face additional charges, according to New Zealand police. He has been remanded to the High Court to reappear April 5.

"I promise you I wasn't frightened or anything," Wahabzadah said, adding that he was prepared to give his life for those he loved. "I was doing my job. If anyone was there in that situation (they) would do the same thing as I did."

Wahabzadah said people at the mosque praised him for his actions.

"I got to be honest with you, it wasn't me, it was God that saved everybody. God saved everyone," he said.

Originally from Afghanistan, Wahabzadah said has been living in New Zealand for more than 2 years. Prior to the move, he said he was living in Australia for 27 years as a refugee.

Wahabzadah said that after seeing racism in Australia, he moved to New Zealand because it was a peaceful country.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 577463

Reported Deaths: 11510
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson841981589
Mobile47171860
Madison37047533
Tuscaloosa26915465
Shelby26873256
Montgomery25918625
Baldwin24499328
Lee16949181
Calhoun15252332
Morgan15017290
Etowah14778370
Marshall12933235
Houston11774292
Elmore10761217
St. Clair10617252
Limestone10574158
Cullman10363205
Lauderdale10083254
DeKalb9382191
Talladega8836188
Walker7681287
Autauga7479114
Jackson7317117
Blount7266139
Colbert6635142
Coffee6163132
Dale5453117
Russell470642
Chilton4682117
Covington4649125
Franklin450081
Tallapoosa4440156
Escambia427882
Chambers3898125
Dallas3717163
Clarke367763
Marion3427106
Pike327879
Lawrence3225101
Winston294973
Bibb284565
Geneva276383
Marengo259967
Barbour246261
Pickens240062
Butler238272
Hale232778
Fayette225264
Henry209245
Monroe197241
Randolph196744
Cherokee196348
Washington180139
Macon168752
Crenshaw165558
Clay163759
Cleburne160245
Lamar149938
Lowndes144854
Wilcox130531
Bullock126142
Conecuh119630
Coosa116929
Perry109928
Sumter109032
Greene98736
Choctaw64325
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