- Title: "This could have been us," survivor of Christchurch shooting speaks of aftermath
- Date: 22nd March 2019
- Summary: VARIOUS OF STUDENTS STANDING IN FRONT OF MEMORIAL WALL AND SINGING TRADITIONAL MAORI PRAYER SONG
- Embargoed: 5th April 2019 02:19
- Keywords: survivor personal story Linwood Christchurch mass shooting shooting mosque attack shooting survivor
- Location: CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND
- City: CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND
- Country: New Zealand
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA008A73PCUF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: For 29-year-old Ashir Rizvi, a survivor of a mass shooting last week in Christchurch, the past week has been a "roller coaster of emotions".
Rizvi was with his friend and flatmate at a mosque in the Linwood neighbourhood just beginning Friday prayers on Mar. 15 when a lone gunman arrived, shooting bullets through the windows at the worshippers inside.
"We just ran towards the corner, panicking, crying, and we were just waiting for him to come inside and shoot us," Rizvi said on Friday (March 22), one week after the attack, while sitting in the botanical gardens near a makeshift memorial wall.
"There was no place to escape... we were just crying because you can see this person dead in front of you, and you all might be the next one," he added.
Seven people died at Linwood mosque, taking the total death toll from the mass shooting, which started at Al Noor mosque on Dean's Avenue, to 50. Survivors say it would have been much higher had one of their fellow worshippers, Abdul Aziz, not confronted the shooter, grabbing a credit card machine and hurling it at him before chasing him down the street with an unloaded shotgun which he hurled at him through his car window.
Rizvi and his flatmate were one of lucky ones who came physically unscathed, but their good friend Ahmed Iqbal Jahangir was shot in the collar bone. Jahangir was in intensive care until Friday morning, and could face life without use of his right hand due to the bullets damaging his nerves, Rizvi said.
Rizvi arrived in New Zealand from India seven years ago to study. He is now in the hospitality business and moved from Wellington to Christchurch in 2016 thanks to a promotion.
"I want to go back to this world, and you know, try to engage myself, rather than doing nothing and just thinking about what happened because that's the only way out -- for me," he said, when asked if he was going to return to work soon.
Over the past few days, he's been attending funerals with his flatmate and other members of the community. "It's heartbreaking," he said, as he fought back tears.
Despite the attack, Rizvi said he felt he was "still in safe hands" with New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been widely praised for her response to the attack, at the helm.
Rizvi would later join thousands at a park near the Al Noor mosque for a call to prayer to remember the victims lost in the mass shooting, the worst the country has ever seen.
(Production: Jill Gralow, Natasha Howitt)
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