New Zealand PM's office received manifesto minutes before shooting

"Had it provided details that could have been acted on immediately, it would have been," Jacinda Ardern said. The death toll has risen to 50.

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By Dennis Romero and Kalhan Rosenblatt

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday that minutes before gunfire erupted in Christchurch, her office was among more than 30 recipients of a manifesto believed to have been written by the alleged mosque attacker.

She said the 74-page document came via email but did not contain enough information for authorities to rush to the two mosques in Christchurch where 50 people were slain Friday.

"This was received by over 30 recipients nine minutes before guns were fired," Ardern said at a press conference Sunday afternoon local time. "Within two minutes of its receipt, it went to our parliamentary security."

Arden said that she has been advised by police that by the time any of the emails and details could have been passed on, the first calls for help were already being received and police were responding. "Someone was then taken into custody within 36 minutes," Ardern said.

"It did not include a location, it did not include specific details," Ardern said.

"The assurance I want to give is that had it provided details that could have been acted on immediately, it would have been," she said. "But there unfortunately were no such details in that email."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hugs a woman at the Kilbirnie Mosque on Sunday in Wellington.Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

The death toll in the mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques rose to 50 from 49 Sunday after a victim was found inside one of the mosques, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said Sunday.

“As of last night we were able to take all of the victims from both of those scenes and in doing so we have located a further victim,” Bush said in a news conference.

Greg Robertson, chief of surgery for the local health district, said at a news conference Sunday that 34 victims remained in Christchurch Hospital, where 12 were still in critical condition. A child was in a separate medical center in Auckland, also in critical condition, he said.

Two other children injured in the attack have been stabilized, Robertson said.

"This is not something we expected to see in our environment," he said. "We do see gunshot wounds. We do see all these type of injuries. But 40 or 50 people in a day is more than what we should see."

"Horror, stunned, anger," the medical doctor said. "Those are some of the words that I’ve sort of had related to me at this point."

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Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian national, was charged with murder in the shooting during Friday prayers in Christchurch. Bush said he would appear in court April 5.

Ardern said he "will face the New Zealand justice system."

The suspect appeared to post a lengthy manifesto before the attack detailing his white-supremacist worldview. Ardern said that what was sent to her office did not go directly to her and she did not receive it, but it went to over 30 places, including the parliamentary tourism desk. "The fact that there was an ideological manifesto with extreme views attached to this attack, of course is deeply disturbing," she said.

Survivor Ali Adeeb described the shooter as having "no mercy" as he fired into worshippers injured or trying to escape.

He told NBC News' Miguel Almaguer that he fell onto his injured father as the two fled the shooter. His dad, Adeeb Samy, "Took a bullet for me," Adeeb said.

The father ended up hospitalized in a coma.

"He kept shooting on the pile and I was lucky to make it out with no injuries," Adeeb said.

He showed a burn mark on his face.

"This burn mark is — I looked on the ground and there was a bullet right next to me and ... it didn’t even skim my face, it just went by me, and the heat did this, so I can only imagine what people who got shot went through," he said.

Three other people were also arrested after the shooting, but Bush said "at this point we do not believe that they were involved in these attacks."

One woman was released without charges, and a man, who was in possession of a gun, has been charged with firearm offenses, according to Bush. They are not believed to have been involved in the attack, Bush said.

An 18-year-old man also was arrested and will appear in court, Bush said, but added that the arrest was "tangentially related" and the man was not believed to have been involved with the shooting.

The prime minister Sunday faced concerns that social media platforms were exploited by the shooter as video of the attack spread online.

Ardern said she would address the matter and noted that Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg had reached out to her.

"Obviously these social media platforms have wide reach," she said. "This is an issue that goes well beyond New Zealand."

Bush said in the news conference that police were still investigating the weapons used but said the guns had been altered.

"It's quite obvious that he modified a category-A firearm," Bush said.

Bush confirmed the suspect held a New Zealand Arms Act firearms license, which he obtained in 2017 while in New Zealand.

Ardern said Saturday local time that "our gun laws will change" in the wake of what authorities called an unprecedented act of violence, and she suggested she was looking at the issues around ownership of semi-automatic weapons.

During a news conference Sunday afternoon, she reiterated that promise, saying she would discuss the matter with her cabinet Monday.

"I've already said there will be gun law changes, and there will be," she said.

She said the bodies of the dead were being released to families, and that all the deceased should be with loved ones by Wednesday.

Phil Helsel and Miguel Almaguer contributed.