British Columbia

Kelowna woman living in Christchurch 'shaken up' by New Zealand mosque shooting

Kelowna-born Carina Reiss was at her home in Christchurch, New Zealand when she got a phone call from her partner informing her of an attack underway at two local mosques.

‘Everyone in Christchurch is very heavy-hearted … it hurts the community as a whole’

Carina Weiss grew up in Kelowna but now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her home is located in between the two mosques that were targeted in a mass shooting that killed 49 people on Friday. (Submitted by Carina Weiss)

Kelowna-born Carina Reiss was at her home in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday when she got the phone call from her partner.

An attack was underway at two mosques in the city and police were telling residents to stay inside, he told her.

"I live right in between the two zones — five minutes in either direction from either mosque," Reiss told Sarah Penton, host of CBC's Radio West.

"My partner just told me ... 'Barricade yourself in the house and lock the doors and don't answer for anyone.'"

She stayed indoors for the duration of the massacre that killed 49 worshippers and injured another 42 in what New Zealand Prime Minister called "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

The first attack took place at Masjid Al-Noor and the second at the Linwood Islamic Centre, about a 15 minute drive apart.

'This isn't a drill'

"It was really scary," said Reiss. "It takes you probably a good couple of seconds to realize what is actually going on and then you're like, 'Oh my God. This isn't a drill.'"

Reiss, who said her parents encouraged her to travel from a young age, lived in Australia for eight years before moving to Christchurch. She said the community is in mourning.

"Everyone in Christchurch is very heavy-hearted," said Reiss. "It hurts the community as a whole."

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, is in custody and is charged with murder. Two other men are also in custody.

A man claiming to be the gunman livestreamed the shooting on Facebook.

Reiss said the whole tone of the city has changed as people try to comprehend what happened.

"It makes people feel obviously very uncomfortable that someone did this to absolute strangers," she said.

Reiss said she's received messages of support from family and friends, including from her mother in Kelowna.

Listen to the full interview here:

Kelowna-born Carina Reiss was at her home in Christchurch, New Zealand when she got a phone call from her partner informing her of an attack underway at two local mosques. SHe speaks to Radio West host Sarah Penton about her experience. 5:21

with files from Radio West

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