Abdul Aziz has said he didn’t like to be called a hero but for an entire nation, he is.
The 48-year-old is responsible for singlehandedly stopping the Christchurch shooter from continuing the massacre at the Linwood mosque, the second mosque he targeted during Friday’s mass shootings.
Aziz told the AP how he picked up a credit card reader and ran outside to confront the gunman.
The father of four, Aziz was attending Friday’s prayers with his sons when he heard the gunman, identified as Brenton Tarrant, approach the mosque.
The suspect killed 50 people in total after attacking two mosques in Christchurch in the country’s deadliest mass shooting in modern history.
"If it wasn’t for Aziz, the death toll would have been far higher," Latef Alabi, Linwood’s mosque’s acting imam told AP.
Alabi said he heard a voice outside the mosque at about 1:55 pm local time and stopped the prayer he was leading to peak outside the window. He saw a man dressed in black military-style gear and a helmet holding a large gun. At first, the imam thought he was a police officer but then saw two bodies and heard the man shouting obscenities.
He yelled at the congregation of more than 80 people to get down but Aziz did not hesitate to go out and confront the gunman, said Alabi.
“Then this brother came over. He went after him, and he managed to overpower him, and that’s how we were saved,” Alabi said, referring to Aziz.
“Otherwise, if he managed to come into the mosque, then we would all probably be gone.”
Aziz said he ran outside screaming, hoping to stop the gunman from entering the mosque. He added that the suspect ran back to his car to supposedly get another gun and Aziz used the opportunity to throw the credit card machine at him.
The gunman fired back but Aziz was able to dodge him by weaving through parked cars, which prevented the gunman from having a clear aim. At that moment, Aziz spotted a gun the suspect had forgotten on the floor, picked it up, aimed at the attacker and pulled the trigger, but nothing came out.
Aziz said the man ran back to his car to possibly pick up another firearm.
“He gets into his car and I just got the gun and threw it on his window like an arrow and blasted his window,” he said.
The gunman then got into his car and drove away yelling at Aziz that he would kill them all. The Christchurch resident said he chased the attacker down the street to a red light before he made a U-turn and drove away.
Police caught the man a few minutes later.
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aziz left his homeland as a refugee when he was a boy and lived 25 years in Australia before moving to New Zealand a couple of years ago.