The gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand last year said he was hoping to attack another mosque and inflict as many fatalities as possible. White supremacist Brenton Tarrant showed little or no emotion on Monday as survivors of the attack recounted the incident at a hearing in a Christchurch courtroom.
Prosecutors revealed chilling details of a meticulously planned attack, in which Tarrant wanted to shoot more people than he did.
The 29-year-old Australian on Monday came face-to-face with families of victims who recalled hiding under bodies, of forgiving the gunman and of living with the sound of an automatic rifle ringing in their ears.
Tarrant opened fire on men, women and children, ignoring pleas of help and driving over one body as he moved from one mosque to the next.
Tarrant, who pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 attempted murders and one charge of terrorism, faces life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Two months before the shooting, Tarrant had driven to Christchurch and flown a drone over the Al Noor mosque filming the grounds, the entrances and exits to the building and travelling time between the two mosques.
On March 15, he drove to the mosque with a range of high-powered weapons on which he had written references to historic battles, figures of the Crusades and more recent terror attacks and symbols.
Gamal Fouda, the Al Noor mosque Imam, said he was standing in the pulpit “and saw the hate in the eyes of a brainwashed terrorist” before telling Tarrant: “Your hatred is unnecessary.”
Tarrant, after his arrest, told the police that he had planned to burn down the mosques after the attack.