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 morning, police said, hours before the first soccer match of the Women’s World Cup was due to start nearby.
A gunman was also killed, police said. in a post on Twitter. It was not immediately clear if police counted the gunman among the total death toll.
New Zealand police began receiving reports of a person firing a gun inside the construction site around 7:20 a.m. local time, police spokeswoman Anna Thompson said in an email.
Passersby and commuters heard the volley of gunshots during rush hour. Armed police and vehicles invaded the area and the authorities closed off part of the city.
The episode occurred as the New Zealand and Norwegian teams were set to play at Eden Park Stadium, about three miles from the shooting site. Several World Cup teams and many fans are staying in Auckland’s central business district, and the shooting was said to have occurred very close to the Norway team’s hotel.
The area is also home to the United States team, which will play its first game against Vietnam in two days here.
“Regarding the incident in downtown Auckland, all of our USWNT players and staff are safe,” US Soccer said in a statement, referring to the acronym for the US Women’s National Team. “Our security team is in communication with local authorities and we are proceeding with our daily schedule.”
The shooting took place in a busy downtown area lined with office buildings and hotels across the street 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 by 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 leading them out of the area. The streets were closed in a two-block area and a police helicopter was hovering overhead.
“Upon reaching the upper levels of the building, the male restrained himself inside the elevator shaft and our staff attempted to engage him,” police said. “More shots were fired from the man and he was located dead a short time later.”
The motive for the shooting and other details were not immediately available.
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown said in a post on Twitter: “This is a scary situation for Aucklanders on their Thursday morning commute to work. Please stay home, avoid traveling to the city center.”