MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - At least 49 people are dead following shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. One man was arrested and charged with murder, and two other armed suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role they played in the attack.
Sarah Hamilton of Janesville has been living in Christchurch since 2013. She lives just a short distance from one of the mosques where the shootings occurred, which is across the street from the hospital in which she works and where a number of those injured were treated.
Hamilton wasn't working Thursday when the shootings occurred. She says her thoughts are with her colleagues at the hospital and with the Muslim community of New Zealand.
NBC15 had a chance to speak to her via What's App Friday afternoon.
"Just coming to terms with the reality that it happened right in our back yard. It’s pretty startling,” Hamilton said. "Just threatens our feelings of safety, It's just so sad for those families who have lost loved ones and friends. So it's just really devastating to feel that really close."
Hamilton says the mood is quite somber in New Zealand. Her Kiwi friends have changed their profile pictures in solidarity to say: "This is not New Zealand. Hatred doesn't define us.
"It's bringing people together I guess to say this is not really reflective of the culture of New Zealand," Hamilton said. "We're a peace-loving and tolerant and diverse community. It's very, very somber, and I think the reality of it is just setting in."