The enduring image of yesterday's mosque shootings in Jacob Murray's mind is a limp child, covered in blood and being held by an elderly man, amid scenes of chaos and terror.

Murray, a bystander caught in the middle of the terrorist attack on the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, was driving down Deans Ave when he heard popping noises that sounded like fireworks.

The 25-year-old father saw a man get into a car and drive toward him on the other side of the road.

"I looked at the car and realised that out of the car something was shooting, and people on the side of the road were falling down.


"It was all in slow motion to me. I didn't register what was going on."

A builder born and raised in Christchurch, Murray said he had no concept he was witnessing a shooting.

"It was such a bizarre thought that we'd be caught in the middle of a terrorist attack."

There were bullet holes in the windshield of the car passing nearby Murray.

"I realised something bad had happened and pulled over to the side of the road. I hopped out of the car and saw that this lady was lying on the side of the road."

Murray ran past a bystander, another builder, and asked: "Did you see gunshots?"

"And he said 'Yep, I think something's happened'. People started streaming out of the mosque about 20 metres from us and screaming and yelling.

"So I ran over to this lady who was lying on her back and there was blood coming out of her mouth.

"I pushed her onto her side in case she was choking on blood and she was talking to someone on the phone and talking in another language and wailing.

"I now realise people have been shot and this is a really bad situation."

Murray, a former social worker who is married with a 2-year-old son, was confronted by a man yelling: "I'm dying, I'm dying".

"I look at his chest and there's blood all over his shirt and what looks like a bullet wound through his chest."

Shocked, Murray turned to shouts from a man in a car who pulled over and yelled: "We've got to get these people to hospital".

He lifted the woman off the ground and helped both her and the man with the chest wound into the car. They sped off to Christchurch Hospital.

At that point Murray said seven police officers ran past to the mosque and several ambulances were arriving on scene.

"But they're behind a barricade. There's these people covered in blood all around me and screaming but the ambulances couldn't get down to us."

A victim of the Christchurch mosque shootings is loaded into an ambulance after the massacre on Friday in which 49 people were gunned down. Photo / Mark Barker
A victim of the Christchurch mosque shootings is loaded into an ambulance after the massacre on Friday in which 49 people were gunned down. Photo / Mark Barker

The builder he had spoken to earlier was helping a man and Murray went to their aid.

"I put my arm around this man and when I pulled it away it was covered in blood. I lifted up his shirt and he had about three or four bullet wounds in his back. He was just soaked [with blood] and in shock.

"I'm screaming down the street for these ambulances to come down but they're behind these police barricades."

The two builders walked the injured man about 100m to the stationed ambulances.

"The medics were just bewildered. They're lifting another guy into the back of an ambulance who was all strapped down. It looked like he was dead, he was covered in blood. It was horrendous."

As Murray ran back to his car, police began ordering people off the street and warning there could still be an active shooter.

"Everyone started yelling and screaming more. Everyone's freaking out. Cars trying to reverse back down the street."

Murray helped a woman in tears reverse her car and looked toward the mosque.

"There's four or five people on the ground, covered in blood, that aren't moving. More people holding people covered in blood. They all appeared to be Muslim."

Murray, a former aid worker in Ethiopia and South East Asia said the scenes were incredibly sad.

"The image that's stuck in my mind ... is this mid-50-year-old man holding this 4-year-old child, and the child is just limp in his arms.

"And he's standing beside an ambulance now, and there's no-one helping him and this baby's chest was just covered in blood."

The events had unfolded in just 20 minutes. Murray left the scene and shortly after pulled over and called his wife Rachel.

"I think I've just been in a terrorist attack," he told her.

"It was the most traumatic thing I've ever seen and no-one should have to see that. And to think that these people have left their countries with the hope of peace in New Zealand and love and acceptance ... my heart breaks for them."

Murray called police and offered to make a witness statement when police were ready.

When he arrived home he sought solace in his own little boy, Israel.

"I went over and he just stuck his arm round me and I burst into tears thinking that I'd just seen this other small child, covered in blood, helpless in someone's arms and here my little boy was, safe and sound and loving me."

His wife called him a hero on social media but Murray said the focus should now be on changing the racist, hateful, bigoted views that led to the massacre.

"The answer to this situation... is love and seeing past skin colour and religion and ethnicity and gender that's going to change the future.

"Practically, this has to start a public conversation around hate and bigotry and how we disarm that in today's society and it's only going to come through a collective conversation, not through politicians, but on the ground.

"Going and meeting your neighbour, learning about Islam and talking to people that go to mosques and other religions and other cultures."

• If you or someone you know needs mental wellbeing support or advice then call or text 1737 anytime to talk to a trained counsellor.