“We grieve with you and the Muslim community. All of us must stand against hatred in all its forms,” wrote Obama, who indicated his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, was also behind his message.
The attack reportedly took place as hundreds of people were praying at one of the mosques, with one eyewitness saying she saw a man wearing black come into the Masjid Al Noor mosque and then heard dozens of shots ring out.
“I saw dead people everywhere,” said the witness.
Four people have been taken into custody, one of whom is in his late 20s and has been charged with murder. He will appear in Christchurch court on Saturday morning. According to a Twitter and Facebook account with the same name as the alleged shooter, a lengthy manifesto written by the self-identified 28-year-old Australian national indicates he was motivated to act out the shooting by white supremacy and extremism in the U.S. He also mentions being Islamophobic and believing in white nationalist ideas.
President Donald Trump tweeted in response on Friday morning, writing: “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”
On Friday morning, the White House also issued its own statement condemning the attack via press secretary Sarah Sanders: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate.”