A fortnight after the tragic massacre of 50 Muslims in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a heroic tale has emerged of how a Pakistani family was in the right place at just the right time to enable escape of a dozen people fleeing the terrorist’s gunfire.
Hina, a software tester who migrated from Pakistan in December 2016 with her husband and two children, was taking her husband, Amir, to the Al-Noor mosque for Friday prayers when they heard the gunshots.
Here is how their story is recounted by the NZ publication:
Within metres from the mosque, they saw people running, trying to dodge vehicles to escape the terrorist.
Her husband told her to reverse the car, but she couldn’t go far because of oncoming traffic. Another vehicle also trying to escape stopped Hina’s car from reversing completely out of harm’s way and Hina’s door was blocked so she couldn’t escape.
The car, now facing towards Hagley Park, was fully exposed. To their left, the shooter had started his second round of firing outside the mosque.
He had just reloaded the semiautomatic weapons in his car parked in a driveway on the other side of the mosque.
He walked along the footpath outside the mosque firing down the street at the backs of those running away from him and towards their car. The couple saw up to ten people make it past their car.
The vehicle stopped the bullets from hitting those running for cover. But it was terrifying for the couple stuck inside.
“When he was shooting on our car the gun shots were so strong the car was actually shaking,” Hina said.
The couple put their heads down as the bullets passed through the metal on the left side to the right, passing through the car.
Somehow – a little miracle, Hina said – none of the bullets hit them.
“For at least 10 seconds we heard bullets and the window glass breaking on us,” Hina said.
“He kept shooting and shooting. He was making sure anyone in the car and on the other side got shot.
“A few bullets hit the dashboard and engine. Smoke started coming out of the car.”
Days later, the couple estimated 26 rounds were shot at the car.
Although a dozen lives were saved by the car, the couple is deeply saddened they could not save the last runner, 17-year old Burnside High School student Muhammad Haziq Mohd-Tarmizi.
Tears started to well up in her eyes as she described seeing the boy. She was reluctant to talk about Haziq because she didn’t want to upset his family further.
“He managed to get out of the mosque,” she said. “He was shot just a few feet away from us. We saw him.”
“It was the only regret I have. It shouldn’t happen to them. The boy. He was too young. I wish he could manage to go to the other side of the car, he could have been saved.”
She later found out, Haziq was at the same school as her own teenage son. They knew each other.
“My son was okay until he heard about him. He was sad, disturbed that night. We were because we saw him. I wish Haziq could make it.
“Especially when you have a teenager boy at home. It gives you a heartache. It shouldn’t happen to any mother.”
When the gunfire directed at their car stopped the pair was able to get out.
A local resident named Norman ushered in the couple, a woman called Fay from the other car and two Muslim men who’d escaped from the mosque, to his house.