The man accused of killing at least 50 people on Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand revealed his attack was more coordinated than it initially seemed.
The 28-year-old suspect whose name is intentionally being left off of this report crafted the assault down to minute details to maximize its impact. This included—by his account—specifically choosing to use two shotguns and two AR-15 weapons to provoke a race war in the United States, the Washington Examiner reports.
“There were five guns used by the primary perpetrator,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during a press conference on the terror attack. “There were two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns. A lever-action firearm was also found.”
The assailant wrote a 74-page manifesto where he credited the rhetoric of President Trump and utilized a live streaming service on Facebook, the world’s largest social media application, to have the attack quickly circulated across the internet.
From the Washington Examiner:
In a 74-page manifesto posted to social media, the author said he could have chosen any means to carry out his attack, but chose firearms to gain media coverage and deepen existing divisions in the U.S. and therefore across the world.
The shooter livestreamed his attack on social media, and he appeared to have two car bombs in the back of his vehicle. But he allegedly made a deliberate choice to use guns to murder as many Muslims as he could during Friday prayers, explaining his rationale in two different sections of his manifesto.
The manifesto seems deliberately written to shock and outrage and is rife with cultural references to the online sites and communities the author reportedly spent time engaging with, so much so it can be difficult to tell which parts are sincere.
In it, the author claimed he wanted his use of guns to create conflict in the U.S. over gun control and the Second Amendment, deepening geographic, political, cultural, and racial fault lines that would lead to a civil war, setting up a worldwide conflict over race and reduce U.S. influence globally while ensuring the future of whites in North America.
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Journalist Jon Stokes said he believes the specific model of the gun was chosen to bolster the gun control debate.
“In NZ, you can get legally many flavors of AR-15, but you need a special license for what our some here would call ‘assault weapons,’ i.e. semi-autos with military-style features,” Stokes said. He concluded, “the gun in this shot is designed to work around those bans.”
“The killer wasn’t known to authorities, so probably he could’ve gotten an AR that isn’t dorked up w/ work-arounds. I don’t think he wanted one, though,” Stokes continued. “The point of using using a ‘not-an-assault-weapon’ rifle in this rampage is to show that these gun laws are dumb, cosmetic, & do nothing to keep anyone safe. The AR-15 is a modular, open-source weapons platform, & you can’t ban it without banning all semi-auto guns.”
And: “The form of the gun here — fixed stock, technically not-a-pistol-grip — sends a message: ‘I complied with your feature ban, & it didn’t stop me from doing this. Bring on the civil-war-starting mega-ban.’”
During the live stream, the assailant also name-dropped the world’s largest YouTuber, PewDiePie.
PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, is the highest-paid YouTuber in the world and is known for uploading comedic content and often playing video games.
The star said he was “absolutely sickened” by the assailant using his name ahead of the attack and disavowed any perceived correlation.
“Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch. I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person,” PewDiePie tweeted. “My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.”