The New Zealand government has conferred its highest bravery award, the New Zealand Cross, on Pakistan-origin Dr Naeem Rashid Shaheed who died in the attack, and Abdul Aziz for helping save others in the 2019 attack at two Christchurch mosques in which 51 people were killed.
Aziz and Dr Rashid have been awarded New Zealand Cross for acts of great bravery in a situation of extreme danger, a statement by New Zealand's Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said.
In a statement, the department said that Dr Rashid was at the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue in Christchurch when a lone gunman armed with semi-automatic shotguns and assault rifles, with several hundred rounds of ammunition, attacked the mosque.
"Dr Rashid saw the gunman begin firing shots into a large group of men on the other side of the room. Dr Rashid launched himself from his position and ran at the gunman. When Dr Rashid was approximately one metre from him, the gunman swung the rifle around and shot Dr Rashid in the shoulder," the statement said.
The statement said that Dr Rashid collided with the gunman, grabbing him and knocking him to the ground. As the gunman fell, he turned the rifle and again fired at Dr Rashid, who was now lying on the floor. The gunman regained his feet and shot the wounded Dr Rashid, killing him, before continuing to shoot others in the main prayer room, added the statement.
"Because of Dr Rashid’s actions, the gunman’s attention was temporarily diverted from the people trying to escape on the other side of the room. During that time, at least seven people were able to escape through the broken window."
Meanwhile, the statement added that Aziz saw the gunman in his camouflage clothing running back to his car and started chasing him. "He ran after the gunman and threw the EFTPOS machine in his direction."
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"Aziz shouted provocations at the gunman to get him to refocus his attention on Mr Aziz, with the intention of preventing further loss of life. The gunman saw Mr Aziz carrying the discarded rifle, dropped his gun and ran to his car.
Mr Aziz chased after him and, while the gunman was sitting in his car, threw the gunman’s discarded rifle at the back left window of the car, smashing it. The gunman drove off, with Mr Aziz continuing to chase him for a time down Linwood Avenue."