CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

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

Jul 19, 2023, 4:40 AM | Updated: 4:42 pm

new Zealand police officer pictured following a fatal shooting...

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. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

(AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A gunman killed two people before he died Thursday at a construction site in Auckland, New Zealand, 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.

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.

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

“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 many soccer teams were gathering in New Zealand for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The opening match is scheduled for Thursday between New Zealand and Norway.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins cancelled a planned trip to the city of Hamilton and was preparing to brief media on the situation.

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