Christchurch terror attack: Rifle club was 'perfect breeding place' for murder

A former soldier says he tried to warn police about the rifle club the alleged Christchurch mosque terrorist trained at.

In late 2017, around the same time Brenton Tarrant was getting his firearms license, Pete Breidahl visited the Bruce Rifle Club on several occasions. He left with growing fears the club was the "perfect breeding ground" for mass shooting.

"The ethos within the club concerned me. It was like being at a 1980s NRA meeting. It was the perfect breeding place for this kind of thing," he told Newshub.

"Their attitude towards firearms was pretty scary, especially with the E category ones."

Vice-president of the Bruce Rifle Club, Scott Williams, says Tarrant had been a member of the Milton club since 2018 and seemed like "a normal person".

"[He] never gave anyone reason to suspect he would carry out an attack like he has," he told Newshub.

Tarrant moved to Dunedin in 2017 - "to plan and train" for an attack - and Breidahl believes that at the Bruce Rifle Club he found the perfect place to fit in.

"The first thing that struck me about the Bruce Rifle Club was the fact that they wore camo on the range - any normal range on the North Island camo is a big no no," he told Newshub.

"It's things like if you were at a pistol club and someone turned up wearing, let's say, a black trenchcoat and black boots and black camo pants. You'd be like 'oh, ok, that doesn't look right'."

Warning: Video contains language that might offend some viewers

Breidahl says members at the club had "attitudes I strongly feel don't go with semi-automatic firearms", and witnessed people breaking the law by handing E category firearms around to each other.

People at the club were "ranting and raving" about how the military would be deployed on Dunedin streets because of Muslim terrorist attacks, and that too many Muslims were coming here.

"[There were] very strong attitudes towards immigration, Muslims being a very very bad thing for New Zealand."

He says he saw members with the confederate flag. A person has contacted him in the aftermath and said he had visited a club member's house and saw "German SS uniforms".

As a result, Breidahl says he spoke to another firearms club, who agreed the matter needed to be taken to the police.

"I went to the arms officer, laid out my concerns and I was told they're a bunch of silly old duffers down those ways, don't worry about them, it's all good."

Williams has told media he strongly denies Breidahl's allegations, although the club will be carrying out a review of its culture.

"Brenton just presented as a regular guy. We scrutinise our members obviously, but in relation to the basic rules of the arms code and how they handle firearms and follow the rules," Williams told Newsroom.

"We do not scrutinise them to assess if they are white supremacist nationalists because as far as we knew, we didn't have those types in NZ."

He also told NZME he "absolutely" rejected any claims the club fostered white nationalism.

"I don't know where this has come from. We certainly never heard from the police. [Breidahl] is known to us, he clearly has a chip on his shoulder, or a bone to pick with us. We don't know why," Williams said.

"I was there on the day [Breidahl] was and confederate flags? No."

A police spokeswoman said initial inquiries showed no record of Breidahl laying a complaint.