Three people were killed and several others injured in a shootout at a Copenhagen shopping center on Sunday, Danish police said, adding they had arrested a 22-year-old Dane and charged him with manslaughter .
The attack rocked Denmark at the end of an otherwise joyful week, just after hosting the first three stages of the Tour de France cycling race. The event had sent hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic Danes onto the streets across the country.
“Denmark was hit by a cruel attack on Sunday evening. Many were killed. Even more injured. Innocent families are shopping or eating out. Children, teenagers and adults,” the First Minister Mette Frederiksen in a press release.
“Our beautiful and usually so safe capital was changed in a split second,” she said. “I want to encourage Danes to stick together and support each other in this difficult time.”
Copenhagen police said armed officers were dispatched to the Field shopping center in the capital on Sunday afternoon after reports of a shooting and told people inside to stay put and wait help. Local media footage showed groups of terrified shoppers fleeing the mall.
The suspect was apprehended at 5:48 p.m. local time (1548 GMT), carrying a rifle and ammunition. Police launched a massive search operation across local Zeeland early on Sunday evening in search of any accomplices.
“We are going to have a big investigation and a massive operational presence in Copenhagen until we can say for sure: he was alone,” Thomassen said.
The shooter had killed a man in his 40s and two “young people”, a man and a woman, Thomassen said. Several others were injured, three of them in critical condition.
So far, the investigation has not indicated a racist or other motive, but that could change, he said. Copenhagen Police will hold a press briefing on Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. local time.
The capital’s main hospital, Rigshospitalet, had received a “small group of patients” for treatment, a spokesman said early Sunday evening, and called in additional doctors and nurses.
Danish tabloid BT published unverified video footage believed to have been shot by a witness to the attack, Mahdi Al-wazni, showing a man with a large gun walking through the mall and swinging it around his shoulders.
“He seemed very aggressive and was shouting different things,” Al-wazni told BT.
Footage published by the tabloid Ekstra Bladet shows a person being carried by rescuers into an ambulance on a stretcher.
“People first thought he was a thief. Then I suddenly heard gunshots and threw myself behind the counter inside the store,” eyewitness Rikke Levandovski said. on the TV2 channel. “He just shoots into the crowd, not into the ceiling or into the floor,” she added. The multi-storey mall is located about 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of downtown Copenhagen.
“My girlfriend and I suddenly hear gunshots. I hear about 10 gunshots and then I run as fast as I can into the toilet. We sneak into this tiny toilet where we are about 11 people “said another witness who gave his name. public broadcaster DR.
The attack follows a fatal shooting in neighboring Norway last week, in which two people were killed by a sniper in the capital Oslo.
The terrorist threat against Denmark is currently rated as “serious”, with the biggest threat coming from “militant Islamism”, according to the latest report from the Danish Security and Intelligence Service.
The threat posed by right-wing extremists to Denmark is considered at a “general” level, meaning that there is capability and/or intent and possibly planning.
Denmark last saw a militant attack in 2015, when two people were killed and six police officers injured when a sniper shot and killed a man outside a cultural center hosting a debate on free speech, then killed one person outside a Jewish synagogue in central Copenhagen. This shooter was killed in a shootout with police.
A concert due to be given by singer Harry Styles in Copenhagen on Sunday evening not far from the mall has been cancelled, police said.
“Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go out to the victims, their loved ones and everyone affected by the tragedy,” Queen Margrethe of Denmark and the crown prince couple said in a statement.
An event in southern Denmark to commemorate the end of the Tour de France stages, organized by the crown prince and attended by Frederiksen, was also canceled.
The suspect will face preliminary questioning before a judge early Monday.