Brenton Tarrant’s grandmother says he was a ‘good boy’ who came home at Christmas

The grandmother of a white supremacist gunman reacted with disbelief after learning the ‘good boy’ she saw last Christmas could have murdered 49 people.

Joyce Tarrant, 94, said the cold-blooded killer who filmed himself calmly gunning down Muslims during Friday prayers was not the grandson she knew.

Self-confessed terrorist Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, faced a New Zealand court on Saturday charged with murder a day after his rampage.

The news came as a shock to the family, particularly to Brenton’s mother Sharon who was in class teaching a double-period of English when her son allegedly went on his shooting rampage. 

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Brenton Harrison Tarrant (pictured), 28, originally from Grafton, NSW, was a 'good boy' who most recently came home to visit his family at Christmas, according to his grandmother

Brenton Harrison Tarrant (pictured), 28, originally from Grafton, NSW, was a 'good boy' who most recently came home to visit his family at Christmas, according to his grandmother

Brenton Harrison Tarrant (pictured), 28, originally from Grafton, NSW, was a ‘good boy’ who most recently came home to visit his family at Christmas, according to his grandmother

Tarrant's shocked grandmother Joyce said she last saw the accused killer at Christmas

Tarrant's shocked grandmother Joyce said she last saw the accused killer at Christmas

Tarrant’s mother Sharon was teaching a high school class when she found out about her son’s alleged attack

After receiving calls from journalists on Friday afternoon, the Maclean High School teacher had to be pulled out of class and told about her son’s alleged act.

 It is believed that Sharon and Tarrant’s sister Lauren have gone into hiding after being interviewed by counter-terrorism police on Friday.

The shooter’s family approached the police as soon as they recognised his face on TV coverage of the atrocity, NSW officers said on Saturday.

His grandmother Joyce said Tarrant visited his family in Grafton, in northern NSW, twice a year, most recently at Christmas.

‘It’s all very shocking, especially [it being] Brenton, he’s a good boy,’ she told Daily Mail Australia. 

‘He was always nice and kind and was sure to visit us twice a year.’ 

Joyce said the whole family including Tarrant’s mother Sharon was struggling with the news. 

‘We’re just doing the best we can,’ she said at the door of her weatherboard house under the huge bridge that links Grafton’s north and south. 

Joyce said Tarrant showed no signs of extremist ideology when she last spoke with him. 

Elsewhere in the riverbank town of about 22,000 people, locals were uneasy being at the centre of international attention.

Grafton is famous for its picturesque jacaranda trees, but now also for the evil that grew up there. 

‘This has put Grafton on the map, but not in a good way. We had enough to worry about,’ one said.  

A young Tarrant is seen being held in the arms of his father Rodney, who died in 2010, and next to his mother Sharon

Tarrant had travelled across Europe and Asia following the death of his father, visiting nations including North Korea, Pakistan and Bulgaria. It's believed that he developed some of his extremist views while travelling

Tarrant had travelled across Europe and Asia following the death of his father, visiting nations including North Korea, Pakistan and Bulgaria. It's believed that he developed some of his extremist views while travelling

Tarrant had travelled across Europe and Asia following the death of his father, visiting nations including North Korea, Pakistan and Bulgaria. It’s believed that he developed some of his extremist views while travelling

'It's all very shocking, especially [it being] Brenton, he's a good boy,' Joyce Tarrant told Daily Mail Australia

'It's all very shocking, especially [it being] Brenton, he's a good boy,' Joyce Tarrant told Daily Mail Australia

‘It’s all very shocking, especially [it being] Brenton, he’s a good boy,’ Joyce Tarrant told Daily Mail Australia

‘Tears, Shock horror and shame that such evil is associated with not only our country but our home town, another said. 

‘I feel so terrible for the people and families affected by this evil act of terrorism.’

Tarrant attended a local high school and then worked as a personal trainer at the local Big River Squash and Fitness Centre from 2010.

But following his father Rodney’s death after a battle with cancer, he allegedly began to turn towards extremism. 

A woman who knew Tarrant through the gym said before his father’s death he had never spoken about religion or his beliefs.

‘From the conversations we had about life he didn’t strike me as someone who had any interest in that or extremist views,’ she said.

‘But I know he’s been travelling since he left Grafton. He has been travelling overseas, anywhere and everywhere.

‘I would say it’s something in the nature of his travels, something he’s been around.

‘I know he’s been to lots of different countries trying to experience lots of different things in life and I would say something’s happened in that time in his travels.’

The woman said that he was a regularly in the gym and among the most dedicated day-in-day-out.

Tarrant grew up in a picture-perfect house (shown above) in Grafton in the Northern River region of Australia's New South Wales

Tarrant grew up in a picture-perfect house (shown above) in Grafton in the Northern River region of Australia's New South Wales

Tarrant grew up in a picture-perfect house (shown above) in Grafton in the Northern River region of Australia’s New South Wales

Tarrant previously worked as a personal trainer at Big River Squash and Fitness Centre in his hometown of Grafton.

Tarrant previously worked as a personal trainer at Big River Squash and Fitness Centre in his hometown of Grafton.

Tarrant previously worked as a personal trainer at Big River Squash and Fitness Centre in his hometown of Grafton. 

Tarrant's grandmother said the white supremacist who filmed himself calmly gunning down Muslims during Friday prayers was not the grandson she knew. (Pictured is a still from a live-stream of the shooting)

Tarrant's grandmother said the white supremacist who filmed himself calmly gunning down Muslims during Friday prayers was not the grandson she knew. (Pictured is a still from a live-stream of the shooting)

Tarrant’s grandmother said the white supremacist who filmed himself calmly gunning down Muslims during Friday prayers was not the grandson she knew. (Pictured is a still from a live-stream of the shooting)

‘He was very dedicated to his own training and to training others,’ she said. ‘He threw himself into his own personal training and then qualified as a trainer and trained others. He was very good.’

‘When I say he was dedicated, he was dedicated more than most people would be.

‘He was in the gym for long periods of time, lifting heaving weights. He pretty much transformed his body.’

Tarrant faced Christchurch District Court on Saturday morning where he is charged with one count of murder.

Flanked by two much taller armed security officers, Tarrant smiled faintly as he stood behind a small glass barrier which came up just above his eyes.

From behind a glass window he made a white power gesture to those inside the court room. 

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Police allege that after opening fire inside the Al Noor Mosque Tarrant drove to the Linwood Masjid Mosque across town and continued his rampage. 

Accused Christchurch massacre gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant (pictured) has made a white power gesture from behind a glass window, during a brief appearance in court

Accused Christchurch massacre gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant (pictured) has made a white power gesture from behind a glass window, during a brief appearance in court

Accused Christchurch massacre gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant (pictured) has made a white power gesture from behind a glass window, during a brief appearance in court

Flanked by two much taller armed security officers, Tarrant smiled faintly as he stood behind a small glass barrier which came up just above his eyes.

Flanked by two much taller armed security officers, Tarrant smiled faintly as he stood behind a small glass barrier which came up just above his eyes.

Flanked by two much taller armed security officers, Tarrant smiled faintly as he stood behind a small glass barrier which came up just above his eyes.

Police allege that Tarrant began his shooting rampage at the Al Noor Masjid Mosque in the city's east, before driving across town to the Linwood Masjid Mosque and again opening fire

Police allege that Tarrant began his shooting rampage at the Al Noor Masjid Mosque in the city's east, before driving across town to the Linwood Masjid Mosque and again opening fire

Police allege that Tarrant began his shooting rampage at the Al Noor Masjid Mosque in the city’s east, before driving across town to the Linwood Masjid Mosque and again opening fire

How killer’s rifles bore white-supremacist references

The self-proclaimed racist who attacked a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers in an assault that killed 49 people used rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal.

These details highlight the toxic beliefs behind an unprecedented, live-streamed massacre, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days.’

Some of the material posted by the killer resembles the meme-heavy hate speech prominent in dark corners of the internet. Beneath the online tropes lies a man who matter-of-factly wrote that he was preparing to conduct a horrific attack.

MUSIC

The shooter’s soundtrack as he drove to the mosque included an upbeat-sounding tune that belies its roots in a destructive European nationalist and religious conflict. 

The nationalist Serb song from the 1992-95 war that tore apart Yugoslavia glorifies Serbian fighters and Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, who is jailed at the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague for genocide and other war crimes against Bosnian Muslims. 

A YouTube video for the song shows emaciated Muslim prisoners in Serb-run camps during the war. ‘Beware Ustashas and Turks,’ says the song, using wartime, derogatory terms for Bosnian Croats and Muslims.

When the gunman returned to his car after the shooting, the song ‘Fire’ by English rock band ‘The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’ can be heard blasting from the speakers. The singer bellows, ‘I am the god of hellfire!’ as the man, a 28-year-old Australian, drives away. 

SYMBOLS

At least two rifles used in the shooting bore references to Ebba Akerlund, an 11-year-old girl killed in an April 2017 truck-ramming attack in Stockholm by Rakhmat Akilov, a 39-year-old Uzbek man. 

The self-proclaimed racist believed to have killed 49 people at a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers apparently opened fire with rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal

The self-proclaimed racist believed to have killed 49 people at a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers apparently opened fire with rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal

The self-proclaimed racist believed to have killed 49 people at a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers apparently opened fire with rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal

The self-proclaimed racist believed to have killed 49 people at a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers apparently opened fire with rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal

The self-proclaimed racist believed to have killed 49 people at a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers apparently opened fire with rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal

Akerlund’s death is memorialized in the gunman’s apparent manifesto, published online, as an event that led to his decision to wage war against what he perceives as the enemies of Western civilization.

The number 14 is also seen on the gunman’s rifles. It may refer to ’14 Words,’ which according to the Southern Poverty Law Center is a white supremacist slogan linked to Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf.’ 

He also used the symbol of the Schwarze Sonne, or black sun, which ‘has become synonymous with myriad far-right groups,’ according to the center, which monitors hate groups. 

In photographs from a now deleted Twitter account associated with the suspect that match the weaponry seen in his live-streamed video, there is a reference to ‘Vienna 1683,’ the year the Ottoman Empire suffered a defeat in its siege of the city at the Battle of Kahlenberg. ‘Acre 1189,’ a reference to the Crusades, is also written on the guns.

Four names of legendary Serbs who fought against the 500-year-rule of the Ottomans in the Balkans, written in the Cyrillic alphabet, are also seen on the gunman’s rifles.

The name Charles Martel, who the Southern Poverty Law Center says white supremacists credit ‘with saving Europe by defeating an invading Muslim force at the Battle of Tours in 734,’ was also on the weapons. They also bore the inscription ‘Malta 1565,’ a reference to the Great Siege of Malta, when the Maltese and the Knights of Malta defeated the Turks. 

By Associated Press 

Short of stature with a stocky build, with thinning hair and beady brown eyes, Tarrant stood squarely in place throughout the entire hearing.

He swivelled his torso around to repeatedly glance at the media, at District Court Judge Paul Kaller and out the windows of the Christchurch District Court.

At the beginning of the hearing he appeared to have a faint smile on his face, but it faded into a neutral expression as the hearing continued. 

He has been charged with one count of murder but police say many more charges are expected to be laid. 

The hearing was all over in just a few minutes, with Tarrant taking one final look at those gathered and marched away.

He is due to reappear in the High Court on April 5. 

Timeline of terror: How the Christchurch shootings unfolded

Friday March 15, 1.30pm local time (12.30am GMT): Gunman identifying himself as Brenton Tarrant live-streams mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque as Friday prayers are underway. The Bangladesh cricket team were on their way to the mosque at the time.

1.42pm: Police respond to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch. People are urged to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour. Shortly afterwards, all schools in the city are placed into lockdown.

1.49pm: Gunman believed to have travelled to Linwood Masjid Mosque, where he shot dead seven people.  

2.10pm: Police confirm they are attending an ‘evolving situation’ involving an ‘active shooter’

2.18pm: Hero cops detain gunman in dramatic roadside arrest, captured on camera by passing motorist.  

3.30pm: Two explosive devices attached to a car are found and disarmed by a bomb squad at Strickland Street, not far from the Al Noor Mosque.

4pm: One person confirmed to be in custody. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush says there have been ‘multiple fatalities’ at two locations – both mosques. Mosques across New Zealand urged to shut their doors.

4.10pm: Prime minister Jacinda Ardern calls it ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’.

5.30pm: Mr Bush says three men and one woman are in custody. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison confirms one of those arrested is Australian.

7.30pm: Ms Ardern says 40 are dead and more than 20 are seriously injured but confirms the offender is in custody 

National security threat level is lifted from low to high.

7.45pm: Britomart train station in central Auckland is evacuated after bags are found unattended. The bags were deemed not suspicious.

9pm: Death toll rises to 49 and Police Commissioner Bush reveals a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder. 

Police are not looking for any named or identified suspects, he says, but adds that it would be ‘wrong to assume that there is no-one else’.

11.50pm: Investigation extends 240 miles to the south where homes are evacuated around a ‘location of interest’ in Dunedin. 

Link hienalouca.com

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