New Zealand gunman kills 2 people on the eve of the Women’s World Cup

An armed New Zealand police officer stands at a road block in the central business district following a shooting in Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday, July 20, 2023. New Zealand police are responding to reports that a gunman has fired shots in a building in downtown Auckland.

Abbie Parr/AP

Abbie Parr/AP

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A gunman killed two people at a construction site in New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland on Thursday, as the nation prepared to host games in the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer tournament, authorities said.

Police said there were also multiple injuries during the incident, which took place near the hotel where Team Norway has been staying.

New Zealand Prime Minster Chris Hipkins said the tournament would go ahead as planned.

“Clearly with the FIFA World Cup kicking off this evening, there are a lot of eyes on Auckland,” Hipkins said. “The government has spoken to FIFA organizers this morning and the tournament will proceed as planned. I want to reiterate that there is no wider national security threat. This appears to be the action of one individual.”

Acting Police Superintendent Sunny Patel said the man began shooting at the site on lower Queen Street at about 7:20 a.m. Police swarmed the area and closed off streets.

The man moved through the building, firing at people there, Patel said.

“Upon reaching the upper levels of the building, the male has contained himself within the elevator shaft and our staff have attempted to engage with him,” Patel said in a statement. “Further shots were fired from the male and he was located deceased a short time later.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if police had shot the gunman or he had killed himself.

Patel said that while alarming, the incident was isolated and didn’t pose a national security risk.

The incident comes as soccer teams gathered in New Zealand for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The opening match is scheduled for Thursday between New Zealand and Norway.

Team Norway captain Maren Mjelde said people woke up quickly when a helicopter began hovering outside the hotel window.

“We felt safe the whole time,” she said in a statement. “FIFA has a good security system at the hotel, and we have our own security officer in the squad. Everyone seems calm and we are preparing as normal for the game tonight.”

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