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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND: Police officers cordon off an area near the site of a shooting on 20 July 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. Three people, including the gunman, were dead and six others were injured following a shooting in Auckland as the city prepares for the opening match of the women's football world cup. (Photo by Fu Tian/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)

New Zealand Shooting Leaves 3 Dead Prior to Women's World Cup

A shooting in the downtown area of Auckland, New Zealand, left two people and the gunman dead hours before the first match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Authorities have not released the names of the victims, but did confirm that the shooting was not an act of terrorism. Instead, officials are calling it an isolated act, which occurred on a construction site. Armed officers placed the area surrounding the shooting under lockdown, blocking off streets and ordering bystanders to shelter in place or leave the area.

The gunman was a 24-year-old man with a history of family violence who previously worked at the building site, according to the Associated Press (AP). After the shooting—during which he went through the 22-floor building—he barricaded himself in an elevator shaft, where he died. It is still unclear whether the man killed himself or if he died in a police shooting.

Authorities said that the shooter’s motivation was apparently connected to his previous work at the site, according to the AP.

New Zealand Police Commission Andrew Coster told reporters that the gunman was under home detention orders but had an exemption to work at the construction site, according to CNN.

The shooting occurred despite New Zealand’s strict gun laws, which were enacted in 2019 in response to the nation’s worst mass shooting: attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that killed 51 people. Authorities also noted that Thursday's shooter did not have a gun license for legal possession of a firearm. 

The shooting, which left six other people injured, happened near hotels where the participating football teams are residing in preparation for the tournament, which is being jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand. Among the injured was a police officer.

“New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the tournament would go ahead as planned,” NPR reported. The FIFA tournament proceeded on schedule, albeit with tighter security.

One change was the cancelation of plans to show one of the World Cup games on a big screen at a fanzone in the downtown region, out of respect for the victims.