Friday is the busiest day of the week for mosques around the world when Muslims gather for Friday prayers. Wahabzadah told Good King News that he had run out as soon as he had heard the shots, grabbing a credit card reader along the way. He confronted a man in "army clothing", armed with gun and a camera.
To distract the shooter from the mosque, Wahabzadah said he threw away the credit card reader.
"I just wanted to scare him so that he did not come inside," he said. Unfortunately, the shooter was successful.
The credit card reader hit the shooter, who then returned to the parking lot and started firing at Wahabzadah. The shooter dropped the first rifle – which Wahabzadah described as a shotgun – and started firing with the second. The shooter could not have a good angle on Wahabzadah, he said, as Wahabzadah was hiding between cars and a fence.
Thinking that the shooter was going to a car to get more weapons, Wahabzadah said that he had picked up the abandoned pistol, ran after the man and tried to pull the trigger, but realized that the gun was empty.
"When he sees me … hunt with a gun, he sits in his car," Wahabzadah said. "And I just got the gun and throw it on his window like an arrow and blow him out the window, and he probably thought I shot him or something and … he left."
Wahabzadah did not stop there. He added that he had sued the shooter, who had turned around and escaped. It was then that Wahabzadah said he returned to the mosque to discover the extent of the violence.
Latef Alabi, Linwood's Imam, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that, without the actions of Wahabzadah, the death toll would have been higher.
"God saved everyone"
"I promise you that I was not scared or anything," Wahabzadah said, adding that he was ready to give his life for those whom he loved. "I was doing my job.If anyone was in this situation, he would do the same as me."
Wahabzadah said the residents of the mosque had praised him for his actions.
"I have to be honest with you, it's not me, it's God who saved everyone, God saved everyone," he said.
Originally from Afghanistan, Wahabzadah has reported living in New Zealand for over 2 years. Prior to the move, he reported living in Australia for 27 years as a refugee.
Wahabzadah said that after finding out about racism in Australia, he had settled in New Zealand because it was a peaceful country.
Good King News's Amir Vera and Jennifer Deaton wrote to Atlanta and reported it to Matthew McKew in Christchurch.