BOSTON (CBS) – U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown says he is “heartbroken” over the horrific terrorist attack there Friday.
At least 49 people were killed and 20 more seriously wounded after shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.
Authorities say the gunman, 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant of Australia, live streamed one of the attacks and has now been charged with murder.
Brown, a former U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, issued a brief statement on Twitter overnight.
“We’re heartbroken over the events in Christchurch today. We stand with our Kiwi friends and neighbors and our prayers are with you. Kia kaha.” Kia kaha is a New Zealand phrase that means stay strong. Brown said the U.S. is ready to help with whatever the New Zealand government needs.
“We’ve had an incredible relationship, almost 200 years, and the relationship is as strong as it’s ever been today,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “I like you and everyone around the world are trying to figure out how this happened and how red flags were not raised.”
President Trump, who appointed Brown to the New Zealand post, also offered his condolences on Twitter.
“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”
The man who claimed responsibility for the attack wrote a 74-page manifesto referencing “white genocide” driven by “mass immigration.” The manifesto said guns were used to stoke the Second Amendment debate in the U.S., and called President Trump a “symbol of renewed white identity.”
Police in Boston, Worcester, New York and Los Angeles have increased security at mosques as a precaution. The Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge said in a Facebook post it will have more security for prayers Friday, even though “there is no identifiable threat against our community.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also offered his support on Twitter.
“Boston’s thoughts are with New Zealand and with Muslims all across the world as we mourn the loss of the innocent lives taken from us in a place of peace and worship. To my Muslim friends and neighbors, Boston stands with you and loves you,” Walsh wrote.