Husband of slain woman forgives New Zealand mosque gunman

Farid Ahmed, above, said his wife was busy saving people during the attack. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019

Husband of slain woman forgives New Zealand mosque gunman

  • The husband says forgiveness is the best thing, among others
  • His wife was helping women and children exit from their designated hall

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Farid Ahmad loved his wife — and he loves and forgives the terrorist who killed her.

“The best thing is forgiveness, generosity, loving and caring, positivity,” said Farid, 59, confined to a wheelchair since a car accident in 1998.

His wife Husna, 44, was one of 50 people killed in Friday’s terrorist attack at Al-Noor mosque and Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand. Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian white supremacist, has been charged with murder.

Ahmad says that if he could speak to Tarrant: “I would tell him that inside him he has great potential to be a generous person, to be a kind person, to be a person who would save people rather than destroy them.

“I want him to look for that positive attitude, and I hope and I pray for him, that he will be a great civilian one day. I don’t have any grudge.”

Ahmad and his wife moved to New Zealand from Bangladesh in 1990, and they have one daughter.

When the gunman opened fire at Al-Noor mosque, Husna helped people escape from the women’s and children’s hall. “She was screaming ‘Come this way, hurry up,’ and she took many children and ladies toward a safe garden,” Ahmad said.

“Then she was coming back to check on me, because I was in a wheelchair, and as she was approaching the gate she was shot. She was busy saving lives, forgetting about herself.”

As massive piles of flowers were laid near the mosques on Sunday and crowds of people of all faiths gathered to pay respects, more stories emerged of courage and grief.

Friends mourned Atta Elayyan, 33, originally from Kuwait, the goalkeeper for New Zealand’s futsal team. Ghassan Alaraji, 35, from Iraq, said he had seen footage of Atta trying to stop the gunman.

“That was my friend Atta,” he said. “He was trying to help and protect others from being shot. He was very, very brave.”

New Zealand Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell said: “My heart goes out to the futsal community. They are a very tight-knit group and Atta’s death will be devastating for all involved in the game. We feel their pain and their grief.”

Abdul Aziz, 48, from Afghanistan, confronted the gunman at the Linwood center and picked up a shotgun that he had dropped. “I chased him,” Aziz said. “He sat in his car and with the shotgun in my hands, I threw it through his window like an arrow. He just swore at me and took off.”


On 16th birthday, California student opens fire at his high school, killing two

Updated 15 November 2019

On 16th birthday, California student opens fire at his high school, killing two

SANTA CLARITA, California: A Southern California high school student pulled a .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun from his backpack and fired on fellow classmates on Thursday morning, killing two and wounding three others.
He saved the last bullet for himself. It was his 16th birthday.
The teenaged gunman, whose name was not provided by police, survived the self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head but was in grave condition in hospital, law enforcement officials said.
Captain Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told reporters the entire incident, captured on videotape, took 16 seconds as the young man stood in one spot and fired on one student after another.
“From right where he was standing, he doesn’t chase anybody, he fires from where he is until he shoots himself,” Wegener said.
The scene at Saugus High School was reminiscent of other mass shootings at US schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student with an assault gun killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.
Wegener confirmed the suspect posted a message on his Instagram account before the shooting that said: “Saugus have fun at school tomorrow.” The post was later taken down.
The two slain students were a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. Two other girls, aged 14 and 15, were wounded, as was a 14-year old boy, Wegener said.

Students are evacuated from Saugus High School onto a school bus after a shooting at the school left two students dead and three wounded on Nove. 14, 2019 in Santa Clarita, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)


Motive unknown
Investigators said they did not yet know what led the student to open fire at the school 40 miles (65 km) north of Los Angeles.
Police said the accused shooter had acted alone. Investigators descended on his family home, blocking off the street. They found no further danger there.
A next-door neighbor, registered nurse Jared Axen, said the suspect had seemed introverted, quiet and sad, possibly despondent over the loss of his father from a heart attack in December 2017.
Axen, 33, said it was the boy who found his father deceased, not long after the older man had regained his sobriety and gotten his life “back on track” after years of struggling with alcohol abuse.
“I would say he (the boy) was hurting and couldn’t ask for help,” Axen said of the suspect, who was a track athlete at the school, involved in Boy Scouts and liked the outdoors, going on hunting trips with his father.
He was of mixed race, born to Japanese-born mother and white father, with an older sister who became a nurse and moved away.
“I would ask him how school was ... he would never bring up concerns of bullying or being a loaner there,” Axen said.
There was no immediate word on where the teen gunman obtained the weapon.
“How do we come out of tragedy? We need to say ‘No more!’ This is a tragic event. It happens too frequently,” said Captain Robert Lewis of Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station, striking an emotional note in an otherwise somber news conference.


Latest school shooting
A 16-year-old Saugus High School junior named Pamela, who spoke to Reuters on condition that she not give her last name, said she was in her first-period choir class when some girls ran into the room and said there was a shooting going on.
“Our teacher immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher and got us into her office and locked the door,” Pamela said, adding that one of the girls had been shot in the shoulder.
Taylor Hardges reported seeing people running in the hallways shouting “Run!” She raced into a classroom, where a teacher barricaded the room.
“We’ve had drills. It doesn’t prepare you for the real thing,” she said after reuniting with her father at a designated spot in Santa Clarita’s Central Park.
Her father, Terrence Hardges, said he felt his heart race after Taylor texted him from inside the classroom with the message: “I love you. I’m pinned in a room. We’re locked in.”
The shooting at Saugus was the 85th incidence of gunfire at a school this year, according to Everytown, a gun control advocacy group. It seems sure to reignite a debate over gun control in the 2020 presidential election.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School, where two teenagers went on a rampage, fatally shooting 12 students and a teacher and wounding more than 20 others before killing themselves.