The family of the man alleged to have shot dead 50 people in a mass shooting in New Zealand on Friday has apologised to victims and said they are “devastated” by events.
In an interview with Australia’s 9 News, Brenton Tarrant’s grandmother, 81-year-old Marie Fitzgerald, said he has “changed completely to the boy we knew”.
She said: “We’re all gobsmacked, we don’t know what to think. He’s obviously not of sound mind I don’t think.”
Fitzgerald gave an insight into Tarrant’s earlier life, saying: “He spent most of his time playing games on computers in and outs of computers and playing games
“I don’t think girlfriends were on the agenda ... getting married was too hard
“It’s only since he travelled overseas I think that this boy has changed completely to the boy we knew.”
Tarrant appeared in court in court on Saturday, charged with murder over the slayings, described as an act of terror by New Zealand’s prime minister.
The mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques claimed at least 50 lives and more than 30 others were injured.
Tarrant’s uncle, Terry Fitzgerald, said: “We are so sorry for the families for the dead and the injured. I can’t think nothing (sic) else, just shattered is the word.”
Speaking of the moment he realised his nephew was a suspect, he added: “First up I thought it could not be then I saw his photo… it’s just not right ...its un-repairable.”
Relatives are anxiously waiting for authorities to release the remains of those who were killed in massacres at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Islamic law calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police were working with pathologists and coroners to release the bodies as soon as they could, reports the Press Association.
“We have to be absolutely clear on the cause of death and confirm their identity before that can happen,” he said.
“But we are so aware of the cultural and religious needs. So we are doing that as quickly and as sensitively as possible.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a small number of bodies would start being released to families on Sunday evening, and authorities hoped to release all the bodies by Wednesday.
Police said they had released a preliminary list of the victims to families, which has helped give closure to some relatives who were waiting for any news.
The scale of the tragedy and the task still ahead became clear as supporters arrived from across the country to help with the burial rituals in Christchurch and authorities sent in diggers to prepare new graves in a Muslim burial area that was newly fenced off and blocked from view with white netting.