Danish police say they have not ruled out an act of terrorism for the Sunday afternoon mass shooting at a Copenhagen shopping center that left three dead and several injured. However, they are working on the assumption that the shooter acted alone.
They confirmed they were investigating videos posted online purporting to show the suspect with guns pointed at his temple, raising questions about his psychiatric condition.
A 22-year-old man arrested near the scene has been charged with manslaughter and is due to be questioned by a judge on Monday. Police described him as a “native Dane”. Copenhagen Police Chief Inspector Søren Thomassen said he was known to police “only marginally”.
The young man, armed with a large rifle according to witnesses, was arrested without violence shortly after the arrival of the police near the Fields shopping center, located between the city center and the international airport of the Danish capital.
“There are three dead and several injured, three of them in critical condition,” Thomassen told a news conference.
The three killed were a man in his forties and two young people whose ages were not specified. Thomassen dismissed reports that the attacker may have targeted specific people.
“We don’t have anything to back that up, and we’re also aware that on social media there’s also a lot of discussion about whether there should be a racist motive for all of this or some other form of pattern. We just can’t say we have anything to back that up here and now,” he said.
A large police presence was deployed at the scene of the shooting and in several places around Copenhagen, in stark contrast to the party scenes two days earlier when the Tour de France passed through the Danish capital.
“We took refuge in the toilets”
The shooting happened around 5:30 p.m. local time (also 5:30 p.m. CET), causing panic.
When the first shots were heard, more than 100 people rushed out of the center, according to footage of the incident. Others were forced to hide inside.
“All of a sudden we heard gunshots, I heard ten gunshots, and we ran as far as we could to take refuge in the toilet,” said Isabella, who hidden there for two hours, on the public television channel DR. “I was scared, a lot of people were crying.”
Some witnesses interviewed by Danish media said the suspect tried to deceive the victims, for example claiming his gun was fake to get them to get closer. “He was psychopathic enough to go out and harass people, but he didn’t run,” one said.
Many visitors were at the venue ahead of a concert by British star Harry Styles at a nearby venue, which was canceled later that evening.
The British star said on Snapchat he was “shocked” and that he and his team were praying for everyone affected by the shooting.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen blasted a “cruel attack” in a shopping center where “adults, young people and children” were present. Danish Queen Margrethe II and several foreign leaders expressed their thoughts and condolences, as did the Tour de France.
The latest attack in Copenhagen took place on February 14 and 15, 2015, when a series of Islamist-motivated shootings left two people dead and five injured.