Suspected Christchurch shooter charged with engaging in terror act

brenton tarrant christchurch shooterBrenton Tarrant (C), the man charged in relation to the Christchurch massacre, is lead into the dock for his appearance in the Christchurch District Court on March 16, 2019. - A right-wing extremist who filmed himself rampaging through two mosques in the quiet New Zealand city of Christchurch killing 49 worshippers appeared in court on a murder charge March 16, 2019. Australian-born 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant appeared in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison shirt, sitting impassively as the judge read a single murder charge against him. A raft of further charges are expected.MARK MITCHELL/AFP/Getty Images

  • New Zealand police have charged the man suspected of killing 51 people during a shooting rampage in Christchurch with engaging in a terror act.
  • The shooter, 19-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, also faces 51 counts of murder and 40 counts of attempted murder.
  • Legal experts told Reuters that Tarrant's other charges hold higher maximum sentences, so it is likely the terror charge was added to show the seriousness of the incident.

New Zealand police have charged the man suspected of killing 51 people during a shooting rampage in Christchurch with engaging in a terror act.

Police informed families of victims and survivors of the updated charges, and made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon local time. The shooter, 19-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, also faces 51 counts of murder and 40 counts of attempted murder.

"The charge will allege that a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch," Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement. The charge was filed under New Zealand's Terrorism Suppression Act, which was introduced after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

According to Reuters, this is the first charge made under the terror legislation in the country's history. Legal experts told Reuters that Tarrant's other charges hold higher maximum sentences, so it is likely the terror charge was added to show the seriousness of the incident.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed not to speak the shooter's name, and has previously declared the event a terrorist attack.

Tarrant is next due in court on June 14.

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