The judge ruled images of the suspect in court must blur his face. Photo: Mark Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images

An Australian man accused of killing 49 people in 2 New Zealand mosques smiled and gave a "white power" sign during his court appearance Saturday morning local time, witnesses say.

The details: Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, did not enter a plea when he appeared in Christchurch District Court, charged with the murder of one person who was killed in Friday's attacks in the most populous city on New Zealand's South Island. Only the media was allowed to watch proceedings and the judge ordered the suspect's face to be blurred. Reporters attending the proceedings said they saw Tarrant smile and make an upside-down "OK" gesture, which is a symbol used by white power groups.

The big picture: Police will allege the suspect was equipped to continue when police stopped him, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Police still have 2 other people in custody they arrested in connection with the attacks, but they have released a 4th person.

What she's saying: "The offender was mobile," Ardern said at a press conference. "There were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in, and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack."

What's next? Police said more charges were likely to be laid. Tarrant is due to appear again on April 5.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage."
  2. Health: Mask mandates help control the rise in coronavirus hospitalizations. Hospitals face a crush.
  3. Business: Coronavirus testing is a windfall. Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. World: Putin mandates face masks.

The GOP's monstrous math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans, win or lose next week, face a big — and growing — math problem.

The state of play: They're relying almost exclusively on a shrinking demographic (white men), living in shrinking areas (small, rural towns), creating a reliance on people with shrinking incomes (white workers without college degrees) to survive.

Right-wing misinformation machine could gain steam post-election

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With less than a week until the 2020 election, researchers have expressed concern that the information ecosystem today is ripe for an unprecedented level of exploitation by bad actors, particularly hyper-partisan media and personalities on the right.

Why it matters: The misinformation-powered right-wing media machine that fueled Donald Trump's 2016 victory grew stronger after that win, and it's set to increase its reach as a result of the upcoming election, whether Trump wins or loses.