Shooting in Auckland: 2 dead in New Zealand as the World Cup is about to start

At least two people were killed and several more injured after a gunman stormed a building under construction in the New Zealand city of Auckland on Thursday, police said, just hours before the first women’s World Cup soccer match was due to kick off nearby.

A gunman was also killed, police said in a Twitter post. It wasn’t immediately clear whether police included the gunman in the total death toll.

New Zealand Police began receiving reports of a person firing a gun inside the construction site at around 7:20am local time, police spokeswoman Anna Thompson said in an email.

Passers-by and commuters heard the barrage of gunfire during rush hour. Armed policemen and vehicles invaded the area and the authorities closed off part of the city.

The incident occurred as the New Zealand and Norwegian teams were due to play at Eden Park Stadium, about three miles from the site of the shooting. Several World Cup teams and many fans are in Auckland’s central business district and the shooting is said to have occurred very close to Team Norway’s hotel.

The US team also remains in the area and will play its first match against Vietnam here in two days.

“Regarding the incident in downtown Auckland, all of our USWNT players and staff are registered and safe,” US Soccer said in a statement, referring to the acronym for the United States Women’s National Team. “Our security team is in communication with local authorities and we are moving forward with our daily schedule.”

The shooting occurred in a busy downtown area crowded with office buildings and hotels across from a ferry terminal on the city’s waterfront.

Police said a gunman had entered a high-rise building on lower Queen Street and went floor to floor as he fired.

Within minutes, hundreds of police armed with automatic weapons descended on the scene of the shooting, warning people to take cover and ushering them out of the area. Streets were closed in an area of ​​two blocks and a police helicopter hovered above them.

“After reaching the upper levels of the building, the male locked himself inside the lift shaft and our staff attempted to interact with him,” police said. “More shots were fired by the male and a short time later he was found dead.”

A reason for the shooting and other details were not immediately available.

The mayor of Auckland, Wayne Brown said so a post on Twitter: “This is a scary situation for Aucklanders on their way to work on a Thursday morning. Please stay at home, avoid traveling to the city center.”