A shooting incident in downtown Auckland has cast a shadow over the opening game of the Women’s World Cup. Despite the unsettling event, New Zealand’s prime minister has assured that the tournament will proceed as planned, with heightened security measures in place. The incident occurred just hours before the highly anticipated match, when a lone gunman armed with a pump-action shotgun entered a construction site near the teams’ accommodations. Two individuals lost their lives, while six others, including a police officer, sustained injuries. The assailant was later found dead after a confrontation with armed police.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins stated that initial investigations suggest the shooting had no political or ideological motives and poses no national security risk. He reassured the public that authorities have been in regular contact with FIFA, and the tournament will proceed as scheduled. New Zealand has strict gun control laws, and incidents of gun-related violence are rare.
The country further tightened its gun laws in 2019 following the Christchurch mosque shootings. Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown expressed shock and sadness over the incident, emphasizing that it was an isolated act and not a threat to national security or the Women’s World Cup.
The opening match between New Zealand and Norway is set to kick off at 7 p.m. local time, despite the shooting. The U.S. team, staying near the construction site, confirmed that all players and staff are safe, and their game preparations are proceeding as planned. The Norwegian team also reported their safety. Norway captain Maren Mjelde revealed that they heard police activity but were unaware of the situation until they saw the news on local media websites.
The gunman entered the construction site on lower Queen Street, a bustling area near transportation hubs, hotels, and a popular mall. As he made his way through the building, he fired shots, causing panic and chaos. The construction site is in close proximity to the Cloud fan zone, which opened earlier in the day and will broadcast the game on a large screen.