Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who has been accused of killing 49 people in two New Zealand mosques, flashed a “white power” sign when he appeared in court Saturday. The 28-year-old Australian citizen was flanked by two armed guards during his brief court appearance that lasted only about one minute. But Tarrant, who was handcuffed and wearing a white prison jumpsuit, managed to express a lot in that brief moment as he used his right hand to flash an inverted “OK” sign, a gesture that has become associated with white power, particularly in internet circles.
Tarrant was seemingly well aware of the throngs of journalists who were present at the appearance and he looked directly at the media. “He came into court, he didn’t say anything at all. He stood there looking directly at the media in the courtroom and was smirking throughout his appearance,” Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas reported.
Although the judge allowed photos to be taken he ordered the suspect’s face to be blurred. “There is one charge of murder brought at the moment, [but] it is reasonable to assume that there will be others,” the judge said after Tarrant walked out of court without entering a plea. Two other people are in custody and authorities are trying to determine whether they played any role in the attack. None of those who have been arrested had a criminal record.
Tarrant has been remanded in custody and his next court appearance is scheduled for April 5. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the gunman was fully prepared to continue the rampage had he not been stopped. “There were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack,” she told reporters.