Police shoot man dead after terror attack at Countdown LynnMall in Auckland leaves multiple people injured

Warning: This report contains graphic details which may disturb some readers.

Police have shot and killed a man who entered a west Auckland supermarket and injured six people on Friday afternoon.

The man - who was on a terror watchlist - carried out the "ISIS-inspired" attack at the LynnMall Countdown with a knife just after 2pm.

He was later shot dead by police, who had been surveilling him.

What we know:

  • A man attacked fellow shoppers with a knife at Countdown LynnMall in west Auckland shortly after 2pm.
  • Six people are injured - three critically, one seriously, and two moderately. Several witnesses filmed the terror.
  • The attacker was shot dead by police shortly within roughly a minute of the attack starting.
  • The Prime Minister has confirmed it was a terror attack and the perpetrator was inspired by ISIS.
  • The man is a Sri Lankan national who moved to New Zealand in 2011 and was placed on a terror watchlist in 2016.
  • Legislation prevented him from being imprisoned but he was under heavy surveillance at the time the attack was carried out.
  • The Crown is seeking an urgent lifting of the suppression orders surrounding the terrorist.

These live updates are now finished.

9:25pm: The Muslim Association of Canterbury, which runs the Al Noor mosque - one of two mosques targeted in the horrific terror attack in Christchurch on March 15, 2019 - has set up a crowdfunding page for those impacted by today's stabbing.

"Muslim Association of Canterbury and the Muslims of Christchurch and Aotearoa are broken hearted but we are not broken again as New Zealanders," the Givealittle page reads.

"In a time that required all New Zealanders to be kind and strong, we are horrified and grieved by the terror attack at Lynn Mall today.

"We stand with the victims of the horrible incident. We feel strongly the pain of terrorism and there are no words that can convey our condemnation of such a horrible act."

The crowdfunding page was set up on Friday evening and has so far raised $310.

8:52pm: Kiwis are reacting to the terror attack with shock and horror. Several MPs, Auckland's mayor and other community leaders have wished the victims a speedy recovery. 

Read the full story here

8:31pm: Police are working through the night gathering victim impact statements.

Newshub has spoken with Shaneena Balasundram who was meters away from the attack. She says she is still frozen and police are at her home gathering information.  

8:10pm: Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has condemned today's "despicable and horrifying" terror attack and expressed frustration about the suppression orders surrounding the man who carried it out.

A former Minister of Justice, Goff says Parliament will want to take another look at the legislation that allowed the terrorist to be out in the community.

"I know that the number of people who are under 24-hour police watch is tiny. Our law does not allow people to be imprisoned for their views, or even for planning to take an action," he said.

"However, Parliament will want to closely scrutinize the law to see if change is needed to cover the situation where the police are so worried about an individual that it justifies the effort and expense of around-the-clock surveillance.

“It is frustrating that because of court orders the full details of this case cannot yet be reported. I hope in due course these can be made public."

Mayor Goff says his thoughts are with the victims and their families.

"They were chosen at random by the terrorist and had done nothing to deserve the attack. We condemn unreservedly the hate-filled ideology that consumed the terrorist but hold him solely responsible for his actions.

“We condemn the individual - not a faith, culture or ethnicity."

He says the terrorist's actions are the exception in the Auckland community.

“The best response to his hatefulness is to unite as a community which celebrates its diversity and treats all people fairly and with respect."

8pm: Commissioner Coster says today's events will be investigated by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Coroner.

"The investigations will look into the circumstances of this event and what has occurred," he said.

"Police will continue to have a high presence in the area and will be conducting a number of reassurance patrols over the coming period. We want to assure the community that these were the actions of a lone individual with a violent extremist ideology.

"He did not represent any New Zealand community and responsibility must lie with him alone."

Coster says support is available to anyone affected by today's event, and anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact the police on 105 and quote Operation Rally.

"Police would like anyone with photos or video of today’s incident to submit this to our investigation. An online portal has been set up and people can access this at https://rally.nzpolice.org."

7:55pm: Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has released a new statement on today's terror attack, confirming the man shot and killed by police was under surveillance due to concerns about his "violent, extremist views".

"Inside the store, we believe this man took a knife from one of the supermarket shelves and attacked shoppers," he said.

"Covert Police Specialist Tactics Group (STG) staff, who had been surveilling and following the man as closely as possible without detection, immediately responded to the attack (within around 60 seconds). The police staff challenged the man and diverted his attention.

"He charged at them with the knife and the officers shot him. He died at the scene shortly afterwards. Police are not seeking anyone else in relation to this event and we are confident this man acted alone.

"Six people were injured in the attack. Three people received critical injuries and were taken to Auckland City Hospital. A fourth person is in a serious condition, and a fifth was taken to hospital in a moderate condition.

"A sixth victim self-presented at Waitakere Hospital after the incident with moderate injuries."

Coster said the attacker was under "constant surveillance" and had gone to the supermarket from his Glen Eden property before without incident.

"Our Police staff acted quickly and with great courage to stop this man and prevent any further harm to members of the public.

"I want to acknowledge this quick response and the bravery of the Police staff who responded. I also want to acknowledge all the people who offered assistance at the scene.

"Our thoughts are with the victims of today’s attack, their families and those who were caught up in this horrific event. People have an absolute right to feel safe going about their normal activities.

"The scene is currently locked down and will be the subject of an extensive scene examination. We are also in the process of compiling witness information and collecting CCTV footage."

7:50pm: The Mental Health Foundation is urging Aucklanders to reach out to "a friend, whānau member or a helpline" if they're struggling this week.

As well as today's terror attack, the region is still in a strict COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown and parts of Auckland were beset by flooding earlier in the week.

"Aotearoa, our hearts are hurting tonight for all those injured and affected by the terrorist attack in New Lynn today," the organisation wrote on Twitter.

"Auckland, we know you are already carrying a heavy load and this week has been really, really hard.

"We are trying to take notice of the things that bring us comfort - like the people we saw today rushing to help those who were injured and frightened, strangers reassuring and comforting each other, looking out for each other.

"f you’re feeling distressed, unsettled or a bit teary about what happened today, we want you to know that’s human and that’s okay.

"Reach out to a friend, whānau member or a helpline [or] do something that makes you feel safe and comforted."

7:40pm: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has joined in condemning today's terror attack.

"Our thoughts are with all those affected," he tweeted on Friday night.

"We stand with our Kiwi family in deploring all such violent acts designed to create fear and divide us. Kia kaha New Zealand."

7:30pm: A spokesperson for the Prime Minister has told Newshub attempts are underway to rush through the lifting of suppressions surrounding the terrorist.

"The Crown is seeking the courts urgent lifting of the suppression orders, which will be filed this evening," they said.

As has already been reported, there are suppression orders on many of the details about the attacker, including his name and why he is known to agencies.

Jacinda Ardern earlier said she believed these details to be in the public interest.

7:25pm: The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) has released a statement condemning today's attack, saying it has "resurrected the trauma" of the Christchurch terror attack.

"Terrorists who do such inhumane and vile acts do not belong to any religion, said Ibrar Sheikh, President of FIANZ.

"We condemn this act of terror. They act out of sheer hate, and they have no place in our country. Our first thoughts and prayers are for the victims and their families. We sympathise with their trauma and that of the bystanders who witnessed the evil act of terror.

"We thank the NZ Police for their bravery and all the work they are doing to keep us safe. The first responders, including the medical and ambulance staff have our deepest admiration.

"At this time, we again repeat our sense of sorrow for those who are in hospital and the others who are suffering from trauma. We pray for their wellbeing."

7:10pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Commissioner Andrew Coster have been forced to explain how a man who was on the terror watch list and being closely monitored was able to carry out a terrorist attack. 

"This individual is very surveillance-conscience and surveillance teams working with an offender over an extended period of weeks need to maintain sufficient distance for that surveillance to be effective so they were as close as they possibly could be without compromising the surveillance," Coster said.

Read the full story here.

7:03pm: Associate Health Minister and Labour MP Ayesha Verrall has sent her well wishes.

"Wishing the six in hospital a speedy recovery and thinking of all the witnesses to today’s attack. Kia kaha Tāmaki Makaurau," she tweeted. 

6:53pm: The Jewish Council of New Zealand says it is deeply dismayed by the "abhorrent attack". 

Spokesperson Juliet Moses says the council's thoughts are with the victims and their families.   

"The New Zealand Jewish Council expresses its deep dismay at the abhorrent attack this afternoon in New Lynn, Auckland and congratulates the police on its swift action in preventing a worse catastrophe.

"Our thoughts are with the victims and we pray for their full, speedy recovery. Terrorism and support for extremist ideology has no place in Aotearoa New Zealand."

6:45pm: Armed police have blocked the road leading to the Masjid e Bilal mosque, 5km away from the LynnMall Countdown where today's attack occurred.

Newshub reporter Edward O'Driscoll says police have been checking the details of a number of bemused residents coming in and out of Waikaukau Rd in New Lynn.

Police are doing a sweep of the mosque, which appears to form part of the their investigation into today's incident.

A photo sent to Newshub of the scene outside the mosque.
A photo sent to Newshub of the scene outside the mosque. Photo credit: Supplied

6:35pm: If you missed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Commissioner Andrew Coster speaking about the attack earlier this evening, you can watch the full press conference here.

Alternatively, it is now available on the Newshub YouTube channel.

6:30pm: The co-leaders of the Green Party, James Shaw and Marama Davidson, says it's important Kiwis don't direct hate towards migrant communities following the attack.

"We send our thoughts and aroha to the victims and their whānau as they deal with this shocking terror attack," Davidson says.

"This is a time now to support our communities and guard against the kind of hate and prejudice that inspired this attack."

"We must ensure hate is not turned towards our migrant communities of colour, and particularly our Muslim communities who have already suffered so much," Shaw adds.

"We stand with everyone today, stand for love and inclusion in our communities across Aotearoa, and we thank the Police and bystanders for acting quickly in such a terrifying situation."

6:25pm: Countdown says in light of today's events, all its supermarkets will open at 10am on Saturday.

Due to the late opening, the priority hour for emergency services, managed isolation and quarantine workers and medical staff will start from Sunday, 5 September. 

Earlier, Countdown's general manager of safety Kiri Hannifin said staff had been left devastated by what had happened - particularly as it came just months after a stabbing at a Dunedin Countdown.

Read Monika Barton's full story on that here.

6:15pm: ACT leader David Seymour says he agrees with the Prime Minister that the terrorist alone is responsible for the attack.

He accepts that the Government faced a "serious challenge balancing New Zealanders’ security with the legal rights that all people enjoy".

But he says there will need to be another examination of New Zealand's laws "to ensure they are well written in light of this situation".

He extended ACT's sympathy to the victims.

"This kind of ideologically motivated violence has no place in our country," he said in a statement.

"The ACT Party agrees with the Prime Minister that the individual alone is responsible. We stand with Kiwis of Sri Lankan origin...

"We give our admiration to the members of the public who came to the aid of the victims and the New Zealand Police whose quick actions may well have prevented an even more severe tragedy."

6:10pm: NZ Herald reporter Jared Savage says the man who carried out today's terror attack is the same ISIS sympathiser who allegedly planned a "lone wolf" knife attack in Auckland earlier this year.

He couldn't be charged as a terrorist because preparing a terrorist attack is not in itself deemed an offence under New Zealand's counter-terrorism legislation.

He was instead prosecuted on lesser charges, the Herald reports.

6pm: Australia's Home Affairs Minister has offered her condolences to those affected by the attack.

"On behalf of the Australian Government, I offer my sympathies to those injured in the shocking attack in #Auckland today," Karen Andrews wrote.

"Thankfully @nzpolice was able to respond quickly & professionally. This tragic incident shows the ongoing need for vigilance in dealing with terrorist threats."

5:50pm: Before wrapping up the press conference, Ardern said she had been advised there would be no change to the terror alert level.

She wouldn't comment on whether she was concerned about retaliation attacks.

5:45pm: The Prime Minister's message to those who witnessed the attack and mucked in to help the wounded: "Thank you for coming to the aid of those who needed you when they needed you."

She says she can't imagine what they had been through.

5:41pm: Ardern says the attacker was a lone wolf who subscribed to a violent ideology inspired by ISIS. He was an ISIS supporter, she says.

5:38pm: Asked why someone on a terror watchlist was allowed in the community, Ardern said he wasn't legally allowed to be imprisoned so was under heavy monitoring instead.

Coster says he's confident the police did "everything we can" within the bounds of the law to ensure they could prevent what happened.

He reiterates there was nothing that could be done to prevent him being in the community, but did everything possible to monitor him.

5:33pm: Ardern says the Sri Lankan man arrived in New Zealand in 2011 and became a person of national security interest from 2016.

The reasons he is known to agencies is suppressed, but Ardern says in her view it is in the public interest to share that information.

"We have used every surveillance agency we could to keep Kiwis safe," she says.

She says what happened today was despicable, hateful and wrong.

"It was carried out by an individual not a faith - not a culture, not an ethnicity - but an individual ideology that is not supported here.

"He alone carries the responsibilty for these attacks.Let that be where the judgement falls."

5:28pm: Coster acknowledges the fact he was known to authorities raises questions as to whether the police could have intervened and done more.

However he is satisfied based on the information available to him that staff did what they could and did so with courage.

"Police intervened as quickly as they could and prevented injury in what was a terrifying situation".

5:23pm: Ardern adds that the police shot the offender within roughly a minute of the attack happening.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says he travelled from where he lived in Glen Eden to Countdown at LynnMall, and was closely watched by surveillance teams.

He entered Countdown where he obtained a knife. Surveillance teams were as close as they could be, and when the commotion began they acted.

Coster says when the man approached them with the knife he was shot and killed.

5:20pm: Jacinda Ardern opens the press conference by referring to the incident, which began at 2:15pm, as a "terror attack" by a "violent extremist".

"I want to acknowledge the six people who have been injured, it was a violent attack," she said.

Ardern says the individual was known to police.

5:18pm: The Prime Minister and Police Commissioner are running late.

In the meantime Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has offered his condolences to those affected in the attack.

"Our thoughts are with all those affected by the incident in New Lynn," he writes.

"Please stay safe and look out for one another. Police will provide more information as soon as it is available."

5:10pm: A reminder the Prime Minister and Police Commissioner will speak to media at 5:15pm.

We're just minutes away from that press conference from the Beehive.

You can watch the stream in the video player at the top of this article. App users click here.

5pm: Warning: This update includes some graphic details.

Another witness who was shopping in Countdown at the time of the attack has told Newshub she saw the moment it all started.

She says he saw him take a knife with a red handle about 30cm in length out of his jacket.

"I was at the milk aisle where the dairy products are, and this random guy, he just... started stabbing these two ladies in front of me," the woman said.

"I just realised after that, I was like, 'Oh my God I just have to run!'" 

She said it was "all over the place" after that because the supermarket checkouts were all chained up, so it wasn't easy to find an exit.

"You have to go to the main entrance so we were all running in all sorts of directions and then there was this door that was opening and the Countdown staff just took us in and told us to be here.

"It was just chaos - people just started screaming."

She said it came as such a shock, especially because it occurred during the COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown.

"Who would have thought something would have happened at this time?"

4:50pm: National Party leader Judith Collins has sent her condolences to those impacted by the attack.

"A big thank you to @nzpolice for their bravery today. Sincerest sympathy to those who have been attacked and injured by the violent perpetrator," she wrote on Twitter.

The party's New Lynn electorate also posted about the attack on social media.

"These incidents are becoming more and more frequent, the rate of crime has increased significantly in the past four years," they wrote in a Facebook post.

"Sending our thoughts to all those who have been affected in today's incident, and massive thanks to first responders - particularly our Police, for putting their lives on the line daily to keep us safe."

4:45pm: Another man Newshub spoke to has described the "pretty crazy" moment he found out about the attack when he was in the nearby Chemist Warehouse.

"Somebody just came out and said 'Run! Somebody with a gun!'

"So they shut us in the back of the room [of the Chemist Warehouse] and then we just waited there and security got us and brought us outside.

"By then, the Armed Offenders [Squad] had turned up, and they all rushed in with a gun. It was pretty frightening really."

4:40pm: More from shopper Amit Nand, who witnessed the attack.

He says after police killed the shooter, he then went to check on those injured, grabbing what could - like nappies and teatowels - to cover their wounds. 

"[One woman's] head was pushed on the food so I had to put something on it because she didn't want to get up. I gave her something for her head. She was stabbed in her head and her stomach."

He saw four people injured.

Asked if he was scared approaching the man with the knife, Nand, who has three children, said: "Nah, I have got to do something for people. I wasn't scared for myself because I had something. He wasn't running. He was very cruisy." 

Nand said he didn't want to be a hero. He said that was the undercover cop. 

"I just can't believe this is happening in New Zealand."

4:35pm: The Prime Minister's Office has announced Jacinda Ardern and Police Commissioner Andrew Coster will host a press conference in the Beehive Theatrette at 5:15pm. 

4:30pm: St John has confirmed there are six patients following the attack.

They told Newshub three of these people are in a critical condition and one in a serious condition. These four have been transferred to Auckland City Hospital.

Two others are in a moderate condition; one has been sent to Waitakere Hospital, and the other to Middlemore.

4:25pm: Newshub has spoken to Amit Nand, a shopper who was in the supermarket aisle that the stabbing took place. He was browsing items before all of a sudden he heard screaming and people began running. 

"People were running up to me saying 'go outside because people are being stabbed'... I saw him with a knife and then I went past him, I went by him with another guy and I told him to 'drop the f***ing knife."

Nand said he grabbed an object and repeatedly told the man to drop the knife. 

"He went past us by the aisle. This undercover cop came to me… I was gonna hit him…. The cop is like 'get back' and he started shooting him five times and killed him."

4:20pm: Countdown's general manager of safety, Kiri Hannifin, has responded to Friday afternoon's events at the LynnMall supermarket.

"We are devastated by what’s taken place in our Lynnmall store today. Once again, our hearts are heavy knowing what our team and customers have witnessed and been through," she told Newshub in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with those who were injured and their families, and we will be supporting all of our LynnMall team. 

"Over the last few weeks especially, Kiwis have shown our team such gratitude and kindness and we are particularly devastated that something like this has happened again in one of our stores. It’s difficult to comprehend and the events of today leave our whole team in deep shock.

"The safety of our team, and our customers, is always our priority, and this is at the heart of our COVID-19 response as well.  We will cooperate with the Police in any way we can to understand what’s happened, and at this point we’re unable to provide any further details.

"Countdown Lynnmall will be closed until further notice."

4:15pm: Labour Party and New Lynn MP Deborah Russell has offered her condolences to those impacted by Friday's shooting.

"I'm feeling for all those affected by the event at Lynn Mall this afternoon," she wrote in a tweet.

4:10pm: Due to the incident, Great North Rd in New Lynn has been closed off between Veronica St and Memorial Dr.

Auckland Transport says further cordons are likely in this area.

"Follow directions of emergency services on-site and avoid the area if possible," they advise motorists in the area.

4:05pm: Another man leaving the area in a car said he saw a person "covered in a sheet" on a stretcher.

Newshub was earlier sent a video of a person on a stretcher, but we are yet to hear what condition they're or indeed how many people were injured in total.

"I am concerned for the poor people who got shot," he told Newshub.

It's not yet clear whether the gunshots people heard were related to the man's attack on shoppers or police shooting him.

4pm: A man outside on the street outside the mall says he was alerted to the incident when he saw the people around him suddenly panicking.

"There was a lot of staff and customers running out and then running back [into the Countdown entrance]," he told Newshub.

"At first, I thought someone's phone had just been stolen and it was a bit of an overreaction, but now I take it someone has been attacked."

The man says he was feeling "quite shaky".

A woman leaving the area in a car says she started running when she heard the gunshots.

"There was a couple," she said. "I was just in the ASB Bank."

3:50pm: Footage posted to social media shows people scrambling to get out of the mall, screaming and yelling and telling those entering to turn around.

In another video, a man can be heard yelling at shoppers - and then, moments later, multiple shots ring out as people scramble out of the supermarket.

A security guard can be seen entering the store and telling others to get away.

Police shoot man dead after terror attack at Countdown LynnMall in Auckland leaves multiple people injured

Footage of the LynnMall entrance in the aftermath shows multiple police officers and ambulances outside.

At least one person can be seen being led into a waiting ambulance on a stretcher.

3:30pm: The incident is the second major attack to have occurred at a Countdown supermarket this year.

Four people were injured - three critically and one seriously - during the attack at a Dunedin Countdown on Cumberland St on the afternoon of May 10. Two supermarket employees were among the injured.

Following the incident, Countdown said it would consider bringing in body cameras to protect workers from potential harm.

Countdown has been contacted for comment.

3:20pm: Someone sheltering at a nearby chemist told Newshub it is a "scary" situation and there are people hiding inside the store.

He says he has no idea what is happening but believes the police have closed the mall.