Grandfather, 71, died shielding another victim during Christchurch shooting

PHOTO: The Straits Times

CHRISTCHURCH - A 71-year-old man who escaped the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and brought his young family to New Zealand in the 1970s was the first of the mosque attack victims to be identified.

Mr Daoud Nabi was shot as he tried to shield another person from the gunman at the Al Noor Mosque, his son Omar Nabi said on Saturday (March 16) while waiting outside the High Court in Christchurch, where 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant was charged with murder.

A retired engineer with a love of old cars, Mr Nabi ran the Afghan Association. He liked to describe New Zealand as "a slice of paradise", according to his son.

His other son Yama Nabi told the Sydney Morning Herald that he had had a little falling out with his father. On the day of the shooting, he had brought along his six-year-old daughter to patch things up because he knew the old man loved his grandchildren.

But he arrived late and by the time he got to the mosque, it was ringed by policemen who would not let him enter.

He feared the worst when a friend waiting outside told him repeatedly: "Your father saved my life. Your father saved my life."

Mr Yama Nabi then watched and re-watched the gunman's video until he found his father lying dead on his back. "I had to go back and forward and back and forward a lot, but I knew it was him," he said.

Mr Omar Nabi said his father was a kind man. "Whether you're from Palestine, Iraq, Syria - he's been the first person to hold his hand up."

"I'm not sure how to deal with this. Forgiving is going to take time," he added.

"It's outrageous, the feeling is outrageous. It's beyond imagination."

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.