Deadly Shooting in Auckland Hours Before Women's World Cup Kickoff
In the heart of Auckland, New Zealand, a gunman claimed the lives of two individuals early Thursday morning (local time). The incident, which also left five others including a police officer injured, occurred just hours before the start of the Women's World Cup. Despite the tragedy, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed that the tournament would proceed as scheduled.
The shooter, armed with a rifle, entered a construction site and began firing indiscriminately. After reaching the top floor of a building, he fired more shots before hiding in an elevator shaft where he was later found dead.
The Norwegian football team, set to play against New Zealand Thursday evening (local time), is staying in a hotel less than 500 meters from the shooting scene. Despite the proximity, the team assured in an interview with Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang that they felt "constantly safe" during the police operation and are preparing as usual for the match. Auckland residents were advised to stay indoors.
In a press conference, Prime Minister Hipkins described the incident as an isolated event in a construction complex, posing no risk to national security. "This appears to be the actions of an individual," Hipkins told the press. The police identified the suspect as a 24-year-old man under house arrest following a domestic violence conviction. He had permission to work at the construction site. His motive remains unknown, but the Prime Minister confirmed it was not an act of terrorism.
The Impact on the World Cup
The New Zealand government is in close contact with FIFA, the international football organization, which stated the incident "had nothing to do with football operations." All teams staying in Auckland are receiving additional support from FIFA. The American football team is also staying in a hotel within walking distance of the shooting scene.
The Dutch team is in Tauranga, about a three-hour drive from Auckland, where they trained Thursday morning. "Our thoughts are with the victims of the shooting in Auckland," the KNVB (Royal Dutch Football Association) shared on Twitter.