USWNT safe after shooting in Auckland on day women’s World Cup starts

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — The women’s World Cup will open as planned Thursday, New Zealand’s prime minister said, after a rare shooting in downtown Auckland barely 12 hours before the opening game.

“We have been in regular contact with FIFA and they are proceeding as planned,” Chris Hipkins told reporters Thursday morning after a gunman entered a construction site, killing two and wounding six, including a police officer.

The gunman was dead and the incident had been contained, Hipkins said.

“The assessment from officials is that there is no national security risk,” he said, noting that there didn’t appear to be any political or ideological motivation to the shooting.

The World Cup will begin Thursday night with a game between New Zealand and Norway, starting at 7 local time.

The American team, which is staying at a hotel near the construction site where the shooting took place, was unaffected and game preparations were proceeding as planned.

“Regarding the incident in downtown Auckland, all of our USWNT players and staff are accounted for and safe,” U.S. Soccer wrote on Twitter. “Our security team is in communication with local authorities and we are proceeding with our daily schedule.”

The Norwegian team was also safe, local news site Stuff reported.

Norway captain Maren Mjelde said the team heard the police arrive on the scene but did not know what was going on until seeing the news on New Zealand media websites.

The gunman entered the construction site on lower Queen Street, near a main train station and ferry terminal, as well as hotels and a popular mall. He fired shots as he made his way up through the building, police said.

“This has been a very grim morning for us,” Hipkins said. “There is no ongoing risk here.”

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