Timeline of police response to New Zealand mosque attacks

Armed police patrol outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand. (Mark Baker, AP)
Armed police patrol outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand. (Mark Baker, AP)

New Zealand police on Wednesday released a detailed timeline of their response to the March 15 shootings that left 50 dead at two Christchurch mosques, confirming they arrested the suspected shooter 18 minutes after receiving the first emergency call.

Commissioner Mike Bush released the following second-by-second timeline, saying the New Zealand public should have as much information as possible about the police response:

13:40 - A manifesto written by the gunman and detailing his plan for the shootings is received at New Zealand's Parliament.

13:41 - Only 44 seconds after receiving the email, an official of Parliamentary Services phones the Southern Communications Centre to alert police. The call lasts 12 minutes. "We now know that while police was talking to Parliamentary Services, the attack at Al Noor Mosque was already underway, having begun 44 seconds prior to Parliamentary Services calling," Bush said.

13:43 - After receiving the first emergency call, police dispatch all available units to Al Noor Mosque.

13:46 - Officers from the police Armed Offenders Squad arrive near the mosque, leave their vehicles and approach the scene. One stops to assist a critically wounded victim. "At this point the alleged offender is leaving the area and his vehicle is obscured from the view of these AOS members by a bus," Bush said. "At this time there is no vehicle description, no information an offender has left the mosque or how many shooters there are."

13:51 - First responders arrive at the mosque.

13:52 - The gunman takes six minutes to drive to Linwood Mosque, where seven people are killed.

13:55 - The gunman leaves Linwood Mosque.

13:56 - A member of the public flags down a police car to advise shots had been fired in Linwood.

13:57 - The gunman's vehicle is seen by police and pursued.

13:59 - The vehicle is stopped and the suspect arrested.

"I reaffirm my previous comments that police staff acted as quickly as humanly possible given the rapidly unfolding nature of the event and the information available to us in that very brief period of time," Bush said.

He said while an investigation of the police response is continuing, the information released on Wednesday was the best police had at present.

A 28-year-old Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, has been charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder.

"The investigation team continues to be focused on confirming certain details, particularly timings sourced from a number of electronic systems and devices with differing internal clocks," Bush said.

He said New Zealand's terrorist threat level has been reduced from high to medium.

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