Danish police believe the shooting at a shopping center that left three people dead and four others seriously injured was not related to terrorism. They said Monday that the gunman acted alone and appears to have selected his victims at random.
Copenhagen Police Chief Inspector Sren Thomassen said the victims, a 17-year-old boy and girl, both Danes, and a 47-year-old Russian man, were killed when the gunman opened fire on Sunday afternoon in the Field’s shopping centre, one of the largest in Scandinavia.
Denmark shooting: Several dead in Copenhagen shopping mall, suspect arrested
Four other people, two Danish and two Swedish nationals, were treated for gunshot wounds and were in critical but stable condition, Thomassen said. Several other people suffered minor injuries as they fled the mall, he added. Some 31 ambulances responded to the emergency, rescue officials said.
Thomassen said police had no indication anyone was helping the attacker, identified as a 22-year-old Dane. He said that while the motive is unclear, there is nothing to suggest terrorism, and that the suspect would be indicted later Monday on preliminary murder charges.
In Denmark, preliminary charges are a step down from formal charges, but allow authorities to keep suspected criminals in custody during an investigation.
“There is nothing in our investigation, nor in the documents that we have reviewed, nor in the things that we have found, nor in the witness statements that we have obtained, that can corroborate that this is an act of terrorism,” he said.
Police said they seized a rifle from the suspect who was also carrying a knife. “We also know that he has had access to a weapon,” Thomassen said, adding that “I will not comment further on that at this time.”
He confirmed that the suspect was known to mental health services, but provided no further information.
Danish broadcaster TV2 published a grainy photo of the suspected gunman, a man wearing knee-length shorts, a vest or tank top and holding what appeared to be a rifle in his right hand.
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“He seemed very violent and angry,” witness Mahdi Al-Wazni told TV2. “He spoke to me and told me that (the rifle) is not real because he was filming it. He seemed very proud of what he was doing”.
Thomassen said that in addition to the rifle the suspect had when he was taken into custody, “we also know that he had access to a weapon and that he was carrying a knife.”
Footage from the scene showed people running out of the mall in a panic. After the shooting, a large contingent of heavily armed police patrolled the area, with several fire department vehicles also parked outside the mall.
“It is pure terror. This is horrible,” said Hans Christian Stoltz, a 53-year-old IT consultant, who was taking his daughters to see Harry Styles perform at a concert scheduled for Sunday night near the mall. “You may wonder how a person can do this to another human being, but it is beyond. beyond all that is possible.”
The concert was canceled due to the shooting.
On Snapchat, Styles wrote: “My team and I are praying for everyone involved in the Copenhagen shopping mall shooting. I am shocked. I love H.”
It was the worst gun attack in Denmark since February 2015, when a 22-year-old man was killed in a shootout with police after a wave of gunfire in the capital left two dead and five policemen wounded. That attack was believed to have been motivated by Islamic extremism.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called Sunday’s shooting a “cruel attack.”
“It’s incomprehensible. Distressing. Nonsense,” she said. “Our beautiful and usually so secure capital was changed in a split second.”
The multi-storey Field’s shopping center is on the outskirts of Copenhagen, directly opposite a metro station on a line that connects the city center with the international airport. A main road also runs alongside the mall.
The shooting came a week after a mass shooting in neighboring Norway, where police said a Norwegian man of Iranian descent opened fire during an LGBTQ festival, killing two and wounding more than 20.
— Ritter reported from Unterseen, Switzerland.
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