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'We Are So Sorry': Suspect's Family Speaks Out

Police say Brenton Tarrant is now believed to have acted alone
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2019 6:24 AM CDT
In this image made from video, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, center, hugs and consoles a woman as she visited Kilbirnie Mosque to lay flowers among tributes to Christchurch attack victims,...   (TVNZ via AP)
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(Newser) – Three people were arrested after the twin mosque attacks in New Zealand, but police now think main suspect Brenton Tarrant of Australia acted alone, reports the Wall Street Journal. Police had picked up a woman and another man, but New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush says it now appears they had nothing to do with the attacks. Authorities, meanwhile, raised the death toll from 49 to 50 after another body was found, while two of the 36 people still hospitalized remain in critical condition. "We're all gobsmacked, we don't know what to think," Tarrant's grandmother, 81-year-old Marie Fitzgerald, tells Australia's 9News. She says her grandson returned home for a visit a year ago, and the family had no inkling. “We are so sorry for the families for the dead and the injured," adds uncle Terry Fitzgerald. "I can’t think nothing else—just shattered is the word."

Marie Fitzgerald says her grandson, 28, left Australia when extremist attacks were increasing in Europe and elsewhere. “It’s only since he traveled overseas I think that this boy has changed completely (from) the boy we knew," she says. The AP reports that Tarrant visited the Balkans within the past three three years, where he seemed fascinated with religious conflicts in the region. It was previously reported that he was listening to music that glorified Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, a convicted war criminal, while driving to the attacks. The first bodies were being returned to families on Sunday, though it may not be until Wednesday before all are returned. That situation only added to families' grief because the dead are typically buried within 24 hours in Islam. (Tarrant apparently made a gesture in court for the white-power movement.)

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