At least two people were killed and several others injured after a gunman stormed a building under construction in the New Zealand city of Auckland early Thursday, police said, hours before the first soccer match of the Women’s World Cup was scheduled to start nearby.
A male gunman was also killed, the police said in a post on Twitter.
A volley of gunshots was first heard by passersby around 8:10 am local time as commuters were traveling during the rush hour. Armed police officers and vehicles swarmed the area, and the authorities closed off part of the city, in what the police described as a “significant incident”.
The episode happened when teams from New Zealand and Norway were set to play at Eden Park Stadium, about three miles from the site of the shooting. Several World Cup teams and many fans live in Auckland’s central business district, and the shooting reportedly took place very close to Team Norway’s hotel.
The US team, which will play its first match here against Vietnam in two days, is also staying in the area.
“Regarding the incident in downtown Auckland, all of our USWNT players and staff are accounted for and safe,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement, referring to the acronym for the U.S. Women’s National Team. “Our security team is in communication with local authorities and we are continuing with our daily schedule.”
A motive for the shooting and other details were not immediately available. Police said an armed man entered a high-rise on lower Queen Street and went floor by floor while shooting.
“Upon reaching the upper levels of the building, the male contained himself inside the elevator shaft and our staff attempted to engage him,” police said. “Further shots were fired by the male and he was located deceased a short time later.”
The mayor of Auckland, Wayne Brown, said in post on Twitter: “This is a scary situation for Aucklanders on their Thursday morning commute to work. Please stay home, avoid traveling downtown.”
Later, the New Zealand Police said in a post on Twitter that the event was “contained to a building in lower Queen Street, which is under construction.”
Andrew Das contributed reporting.