Two people have been killed and multiple injured in a shooting in Auckland, New Zealand, just hours before the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
A 24-year-old gunman broke into a high-rise construction site at 1 Queen Street in central Auckland on Thursday morning around 7:20am local time.
The man, believed to be a construction worker at the site, entered the building armed with a pump-action shotgun and moved through the building, firing rounds. After reaching the upper levels, he contained himself inside an elevator shaft, where he fired more shots before being found dead a short time later.
One officer was injured in the shooting, as were four members of the public.
Security was tightened ahead of the opening match of the Women’s World Cup after the shooting took place near the hotel of the Norwegian team, which was scheduled to play the opening match later in the day.
Auckland has welcomed thousands of international players and tourists for the ninth Women’s World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
On Thursday, New Zealand took on Norway in the opener.
Officials at Eden Park, where the match is played after the tournament’s opening ceremony, encouraged fans to arrive at the stadium early.
“There will be an increased security presence within the compound and throughout the compound. Additional traffic management measures have been put in place,” Eden Park said.
Several players took to social media to report that they were safe.
“Everything seems calm and we are preparing normally for tonight’s game,” Norway’s captain Maren Mjelde told the Norwegian newspaper. verdens gang during the police operation.
The training of the selection of Italy and the United States was delayed because the players could not leave their hotel.
A US Soccer spokesman said the US players were getting up to eat breakfast inside the hotel when the incident occurred.
“Our security immediately contacted local authorities and the State Department. We immediately determined that everyone was safe and accounted for and from then on we just had to wait,” Aaron Heifetz told reporters.
Douglas Emhoff, the husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris, who is leading the presidential delegation to New Zealand for the World Cup opening ceremony, is safe, the US embassy said.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the soccer tournament would go ahead as planned, adding that the shooting appeared to be the action of an individual and that police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
“There was no identified political or ideological motivation for the shooting and therefore no national security risk,” Hipkins said during a televised news conference.
There will be no change to the threat level to New Zealand’s security, although there will be an increased police presence in the city, it said.
“Obviously we would prefer it not have started this way,” Hipkins told reporters later that day.
“What happened today will be recognized at the opening ceremony. And I will go, it is safe to go and we continue to encourage the entire community to get behind this,” she said.