Espen Andersen Bråthen, 37, has been charged with the attack, which took place in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg on Wednesday evening and left five people dead. Police have yet to disclose the charges against him.
The head of the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST), Hans Sverre Sjøvold, told reporters on Thursday that the attack “appears to be an act of terrorism”, but noted that it was important that the investigation continue and that “we can clarify the reasons for the accused.”
The police had been in contact with the man, in part “because of previous concerns about radicalization,” said police chief Ole Bredrup Sæverud. Officers also revealed that the suspect had converted to Islam.
The suspect had not appeared on their radar this year, however, Sæverud said, saying police had “not received any report in 2021 regarding radicalization.”
Four women and a man were killed in the attack. They were all between the ages of 50 and 70, Sæverud said.
People laid flowers and lit candles at a vigil for the victims in Kongsberg on Thursday evening, and others stopped to pay their respects at the makeshift memorial on Friday.
Newly inaugurated Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre was due to visit the city on Friday.
Speaking at a press conference in the capital, Oslo, Thursday, Gahr Støre said he hoped to join the Minister of Justice to express their “support” for those affected.
The tragedy coincided with Gahr Støre’s announcement of the new Norwegian government on Thursday. Acknowledging this at the press conference, he called it a “very special day to present a new government” in light of the country which suffered a “horribly cruel attack on innocent people last night”.
He expressed his relief that the Norwegian police had arrested the suspect, while stressing that the result was still “deeply tragic”.
“It was an act of terrorism, and this act that happened yesterday naturally reminds us of those who went through such terrible things and we will support them,” he said.
The Kongsberg attack “shows that our society is vulnerable”, said Gahr Støre, stressing that it is “not good for us to conclude what is the motive, what is behind this action”. He said the Norwegian police “must be allowed to finish their work and clarify” these issues, but the attack “once again underlines that preparation is a complex task for a company”.
A timeline of events on Wednesday revealed that only 35 minutes elapsed between the first reports to police of a man shooting with a bow and arrows at 6:12 p.m. and the suspect’s arrest at 6:47 p.m.
From what police now know, “it seems pretty clear that probably everyone was killed after police first came into contact with the assailant,” Sæverud said.
The assailant allegedly acted alone, police said.
CNN’s Niamh Kennedy contributed to this report.
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