'The poor guy passed away': Witness describes distressing chaos of Christchurch shooting scene

A devastated witness to the Christchurch mosque shooting has described the horrifying scenes as people were gunned down on either side of her car as she drove.

Jill Keats, 66, was driving down Deans Avenue to Riccarton Mall when she saw and heard what she thought were firecrackers, accompanied by the sight of young men running down the street.

"[But] all of a sudden it got quite violent, and I thought 'That's not firecrackers' - and they just started falling. One fell to the left of my car and one fell to the right," she recounted.

"For a few minutes I stopped the car in shock, and I leaned across the seats to try and avoid getting shot. I opened up my driver's door and got out and a guy comes up and says 'Are you alright?' and I say 'Yeah I haven't been shot'.

"[But] the poor bugger lying on the verge had been shot in the back. We opened my passengers' door and my driver's door and pulled him round and opened up the back as well, to give us some protection."

Keats said one of the men she was with ran back to his car to retrieve a first aid kit, before lifting up his shirt to expose his wound so they could dress it.

"A nice Muslim guy came up and gave me some help as well, because you have to put quite a bit of pressure on and I was shaking so hard," she said.

"The guy I was compressing, he was trying to ring his wife and I managed to get it and answer the phone and I said 'Your husband's been shot outside the mosque. Don't come here to Deans Ave, you won't get through - but please got to a hospital and wait for him'.

"Then I kept talking to him and telling him that she was at the hospital waiting and he wasn't to give up. We just kept pressure on him the best we could until we could get him some help.

"In the meantime, the poor guy across the road passed away."

Keats said the entire time she sheltered and provided medical assistance, ambulance officers were trying to get to the scene.

"The worst thing was we could hear the ambulances but they couldn't get to us. A nice guy on the other side [of my car] put three people in his car and took them to hospital," she said.

"The guy on the street was trying ring his wife, and the other guy was in bad shape but I couldn't get to him because that was where the gunfire was coming from."

Keats denies being a hero, and says she's devastated something so horrific took place in our country.

"You just do what you do at the time. I wish I could've done more," she said.

"I'm 66 - I never thought in my life I would see something like this. Not in New Zealand."