Tributes to the twin mosque attack victims outside Christchurch Botanic Gardens Christchurch on April 5, 2019. Photo: Sanka Vidanagama/AFP via Getty Images

The Australian man who opened fire inside two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, has pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of engaging in a terrorist act.

Details: Brenton Tarrant entered his changed plea via video link from Auckland Prison Thursday morning local time. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement sentencing would not take place until all victims who wish to attend the hearing can do so. "Due to the COVID-19 epidemic that will not be possible for some time," he noted.

Why it matters: The March 15, 2019 attacks resulted in the deaths of 51 people and led to sweeping reforms of New Zealand's gun laws, including a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles and the introduction of a buyback scheme that resulted in more than 10,000 firearms being handed in.

  • Facebook changed its policy on live-streaming video violations in response to the mosque shootings being broadcast on the social media site.
  • Countries around the world have signed on to the Christchurch Call, an effort to reduce violent extremist content online that was launched by governments and tech companies. (The U.S. government has not signed on to measure, citing First Amendment concerns.)

The big picture: The gunman originally pleaded not guilty last June. Justice Cameron Mander said in a statement the court received indication that from the defense counsel of the plea change earlier this week.

Of note: New Zealand has reported 205 cases of the novel coronavirus and was placed under alert level 4 measures just before midnight Wednesday local time, which essentially place the country on lockdown.

  • Mander said the 17 people who were allowed in court to hear the guilty plea, including the imams of the Linwood and Al Noor mosques, where the attacks took place, observed the physical distancing requirements of the alert level.

What's next: The defendant has been further remanded in custody until May 1, "at which time the position will be reviewed and either a sentencing date will be set or there will be a further remand in custody," Bush said.

Go deeper: Christchurch mosque attacks: Suspect charged with terrorism

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,393,591 — Total deaths: 950,344— Total recoveries: 20,679,272Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,722,699 — Total deaths: 198,484 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.