Neighbours say Tarrant kept to himself, liked to travel

Brenton Tarrant appeared in the Christchurch District Court this afternoon. Photo: NZME
Brenton Tarrant appeared in the Christchurch District Court this afternoon. Photo: NZME
For the past two years, Brenton Harrison Tarrant had been living an unassuming life at his home in Dunedin.

Neighbours say he mostly kept to himself at the single bedroom flat in Somerville St, where he has lived for at least the past two years, while others say he liked to talk about travelling and was often overseas.

Today, the 28-year-old appeared in the Christchurch District Court on a murder charge after 49 people were yesterday shot in two mosques in Christchurch in what has been described as the nation's worst  "terror attack". Dozens of others have also been injured, some critically.

Tarrant was remanded in custody, without plea, to the High Court in Christchurch on April 5.  Two other people remain in custody.

Police outside an address in Somerville St. Photo: ODT
Police outside an address in Somerville St. Photo: ODT
Tarrant is a member of a South Otago rifle club with a firearms licence and had practised shooting an AR-15 at its range in Milburn. He had reportedly bought a bolt action rifle at a Dunedin sports store in 2017.

Since yesterday, Dunedin police have been investigating a Somerville St property as a "location of interest" in connection with the mosque attacks.

The property had been cordoned off overnight and a bomb squad with a bomb detecting robot arrived just before 10am today. The cordon had since been relaxed.

A person who worked at a South Dunedin gym Tarrant frequented said he had been a member since October 2017. She had never heard of him raising his views about Muslims.

The events in Christchurch were a massive shock to members of the gym, she said.

"It's just so crazy. You wouldn't expect something like this."

The woman said she spoke to Tarrant reasonably regularly as part of her job.

She said he liked to talk about his travels and was often overseas, including a recent trip over the Christmas break.

The man had a strange accent, which she described as sounding like an upper class English accent, with an Australian twang.

Tarrant is believed to have travelled to Pakistan in the past year, and Bulgarian officials are investigating his recent trip to eastern Europe four months ago. He is also reported to have visited France, Spain and Portugal.

A Somerville St resident, who did not want to be named, said he lived a few houses away from the accused and often saw him working out at a South Dunedin gym.

The resident said the man kept to himself - and when they did talk, it was only briefly.

A woman who has lived nearby since 2017 said she often saw Tarrant out running, but never spoke to him.

His beige Subaru station wagon was often parked out the front of the flat in a private drive which was shared by an number of other properties, she said.

She was unable to recall when the last time she saw him was.

Other residents in the street said they had seen pictures of Tarrant and his car online and recognised him as a neighbour. However, they said they did not know him.

Another neighbour said he recognised Tarrant's Subaru from a video of him being apprehended by police.

"We all know each other because we have to give-way and be polite and courteous to each other so and he was good as gold. It's crazy what has happened.''

Another resident said he would now make more of an effort to get to know his neighbours.

Many residents caught in the police cordon last night choose to stay in their homes.

One resident who stayed said he was never worried about something happening to him and he felt safer at home.

 

 

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