Exclusive: Family of alleged Christchurch shooter breaks silence

 9news.com.au  03/17/2019 10:29:00 

The grandmother of the man allegedly responsible for the twin Christchurch mosque terror attacks that have killed 50 has spoken to 9News of her disbelief and devastation.

Marie Fitzgerald, 81, spoke exclusively to 9News reporter Hannah Sinclair as her grandson remains in custody in New Zealand.

Sifting through old photos, Mrs Fitzgerald recalled when Brenton Tarrant was a child.

In his years at Grafton High School his interest was in computer games rather than girls, his grandmother said.

“He spent most of his time playing games on computers in and outs of computers and playing games,” she said.

“I don’t think girlfriends were on the agenda ... getting married was too hard.”

Christchurch New Zealand shooting massacre terror attack Brenton Tarrant

She said Mr Tarrant's father death in 2010 from cancer took its toll, and he headed to Europe at a time when Islamic extremists attacks were on the rise.

“It’s only since he travelled overseas I think that this boy has changed completely to the boy we knew.”

Investigators believe Mr Tarrant had been planning his attacks for two years whilst living in New Zealand.

Twelve months ago he returned to Grafton for his sister’s birthday and there were no red flags, Mrs Fitzgerald said.

“He was just his normal self you know,” she said.

“We all chatted we and had a meal together to celebrate that occasion and now everyone is devastated.”

The family first learned of his alleged involvement in the attack when watching television.

“First up I thought it could not be then I saw his photo… it’s just not right ...its un-repairable," Mr Tarrant's uncle Terry Fitzgerald said.

Mr Tarrant’s mother and sister remain in a safe house under the protection of police.  

In the meantime the family is assisting investigators as they try establish what turned a country boy into an accused killer.

They said they are “shattered” for the people of New Zealand and those suffering because of Mr Tarrant’s alleged actions.

“We are so sorry for the families for the dead and the injured. I  can’t think nothing else just shattered is the word," Terry Fitzgerald said.

Mr Tarrant is set to be charged  and prosecuted in New Zealand.

He has been charged with one count of murder and remains the only person charged directly over last Friday's shooting massacres.

He will face further charges before he next appears in court on April 5.

He did not apply for bail when he was before the court on Saturday.

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019

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