CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Being late for Friday prayers has saved the lives of two Christchurch residents.
Siman Omar, 52, and her son Hamza Abdi, 20, were running late for Friday prayers at Al Noor mosque.
Abdi dropped his mother at the gate of the mosque and drove off to find somewhere to park the car.
Omar stopped to speak with a friend at the gate when she saw a short man wearing a helmet and carrying a big gun, striding through the gate.
“He started shooting at the men taking their shoes off at the door. He just went ‘bam bam bam’.”
Omar ran and hid behind a car. She was visible ducking for cover in the background of alleged shooter Brenton Tarrant’s livestream of the event.
Omar said she never expected something like this could happen in Christchurch. She had been going to Friday prayers at the mosque since moving to New Zealand from Somalia 22 years ago
Her son Hamza Abdi said he parked his car on a side street near the mosque after dropping off his mum.
“I was walking back and heard noises. I didn’t realize they were gun shots.”
A friend, “one of the Somali brothers,” says Abdi, told him to jump in his car.
Still, Abdi, didn’t know what was going on until he saw a group of women run across Deans Ave, the road the mosque is located on.
His recall of events is hazy but he remembered getting out of the car and suddenly the car behind him was being shot at.
The driver “just floored it” and Abdi ran. As he looked back, he could see the shooter putting his gun back in the car.
Abdi scampered over a fence and hid in a portable toilet. From there, he started calling people from his phone.
“They didn’t believe me that this was happening.”
He went back to the mosque in search of his mother. The horror of what he encountered brings Abdi to tears.
“One man was holding a child in his arms. The kid had been shot. I just broke down.”
Abdi was eventually reunited with his mother. They are now recovering at home in Christchurch, a place neither of them thought would ever experience something like this.