The Linwood Avenue mosque imam who was seen escaping the massacre in blood-soaked clothing warned worshippers to take cover after hearing the gunman open fire outside.
Imam Alabi Lateef Zirullah has broken his silence for the first time since the deadly shooting that left at least six people dead at his mosque in Christchurch on Friday.
Worshippers were all about to drop to the floor for the second part of the Muslim prayer service when Brother Lateef spotted the gunman out the front and shouted his warning.
‘He saved lots of lives,’ a worshipper who survived the Linwood part of the massacre told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Many more would be dead if we had been kneeling’.
The prayer leader said he was inside when alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant, 28, began shooting Muslim worshippers outside.
‘When I saw those Muslims shot dead I just told our brothers, ”Go down! Go down! Somebody has just shot our brothers outside the masjid”,’ he told the New Zealand Herald.
But Zirullah said many of them were not quick enough to heed his warnings and did not react until another man was shot in the head through the window.
‘He [Gunman] saw him standing and shot him [through] the window. When glass got broken and the brother fell down, everyone realised to go down,’ he added.
The imam ran out of the mosque with fellow worshipper Abdul Aziz, who had picked up a credit card machine on the way which he used to throw at the shooter who had ran back into his car to retrieve another firearm.
The gunman allegedly began firing back at him, but Aziz was able to dodge the stream of bullets by running through a sea of parked cars, he told the publication.