Rifle club shocked by Tarrant revelations

A cameraman from an Australia media channel completes his shooting at Narrowdale Rd in Milburn,...
A cameraman from an Australia media channel completes his shooting at Narrowdale Rd in Milburn, where media had been stopped by a padlocked forestry gate from going any further up to the Bruce Gun club's range. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
The Milton community has been left stunned after learning the alleged mosque terror gunman practised shooting at a nearby range.

It was revealed after Friday's attack that Brenton Tarrant was a member of the Bruce Rifle Club, which has a range near Milburn.

International media yesterday descended on the club, which was cordoned off by police, and nearby Milton.

Bruce Rifle Club vice-president Scott Williams confirmed Tarrant was a member of the club and practised shooting at its range.

Members of the club's executive have given statements to police, Mr Williams said.

He said from what he could remember, Tarrant used an AR-15 and hunting rifle at the range.

Anyone with a standard firearms licence could own an AR-15, but there were limits to the way they could be configured, he said.

Tarrant seemed "as normal as anyone else'' and "certainly'' never mentioned anything about his beliefs about Muslims.

The club, which had just over 100 members, was in shock, Mr Williams said.

"I think we're feeling bit stunned and shocked and a bit betrayed, perhaps, that we've had this person in our club who has ended up doing these horrible things.''

Mr Williams was unsure how many times Tarrant had used the range, but said he was always happy to help out around the club, which he joined in early 2018.

"He was always there helping out with any work that was needed around the club, or when it came to set up or pack down the range.''

Mr Williams rejected a claim made on social media about the club's activities and any links to white nationalism.

He told NZME an investigation of its members would prove the allegations to be "unfounded''.

Milton Bruce RSA member Ian Carruthers said Milton people were stunned that their community was in the spotlight following Friday's tragedy in Christchurch.

“We all know someone who is a member of the Bruce gun club which is now in the spotlight and we are amazed at the media coming here to find out more.

“The members we know are all good people, serious about their guns but good people,” he said.

Milburn local Ray McLellan, whose property is near the range, said he always found the gun club people very friendly.

“It was shocking to hear about what happened up in Christchurch, but I have always found the members of the gun club to be very responsible people.

“They are very avid shooters and very passionate about their sport but they are also very considerate and always let me know when they are there,” he said.

Mr McLellan said he was surprised to find a young man in a suit early on a Sunday morning at his front gate asking for directions to the gun club.

“I didn't know who he was and wondered what a bloke in a suit and tie was doing there so early on Sunday morning,” he said.

The young man was one of a small media contingent from Australia who were looking for the gun club's range at Milburn.

Reporters and cameramen from TV3, Channels Seven and Nine were later seen on Narrowdale Rd, in Milburn, where they had been prevented by a padlocked forestry gate from going any further up to the club's range, which was about 400m away.

 - additional reporting John Cosgrove 

Add a Comment