New Zealand mosque shooting: Gunman Brenton Tarrant flashes 'white power' sign, smirks during court appearance

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, appeared in white prison clothing with manacled hands. He smirked when media photographed him in the dock during the hearing on Saturday

The main suspect in the Friday shootings that killed at least 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand flashed the 'white power' sign and smirked when he appeared in court on Saturday.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, was photographed during the brief hearing making the OK symbol that has been appropriated by white supremacists. 

The Australian personal trainer showed no expression as District Court Judge Paul Kellar read one charge of murder to him. "There is one charge of murder brought at the moment, it is reasonable to assume that there will be others," the judge said.

The court appearance lasted only about a minute and he was led back out in handcuffs. He was ordered to return to court again April 5.

Tarrant did not have a criminal record prior to the mass shooting. "He was not known to authorities in connection with far-right violence," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during a press conference on Saturday.

Tarrant allegedly used five legally purchased guns in the bloodbath that left 49 people dead (AP)

The gunman posted a 74-page manifesto on social media in which he identified himself as Tarrant and said he was a 28-year-old Australian and white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.

It has been reported that Tarrant began purchasing guns in December 2018 and allegedly used five legally purchased guns in the bloodbath that left 49 people dead and 42 people injured, including a 5-year-old girl who was in critical condition Saturday morning.

Tarrant live-streamed the massacre on his Facebook page while in a car rigged with explosives in southern Christchurch, which police dismantled.

The shooting left 42 injured including a 5-year-old girl who was in critical condition Saturday morning (AP)

The prime minister confirmed on Saturday morning that two other people have been arrested though local authorities are still trying to determine if those two had been involved. A fourth person was also arrested late Friday night, but Ardern said the suspect was just "a member of the public" who was in possession of a firearm and was trying to help police. That suspect has been released.

"While the national grapples with a form of anger and grief we have not experienced before, we are seeking answers," Ardern said on Saturday morning. "We are all grieving together."

—With AP inputs