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Copenhagen shooting: What do we know about Sunday’s shopping centre attack?

Danish police said on Monday that they believe Sunday’s mass shooting at a shopping centre in Copenhagen was not terror-related, and the gunman acted alone, apparently selecting his victims at random.

A middle-aged Russian man and two Danish teenagers were killed in the attack. Four others were seriously injured.

A 22-year-old man arrested near the scene has been charged and was due to be questioned by a judge. 

What happened in the attack?

The shooting occurred at around 17:30 local time (also 17.30 CET), causing panic at one of Scandinavia’s largest shopping centres. The Fields centre is located between Copenhagen city centre and the Danish capital’s international airport.

When the first shots were heard, more than 100 people rushed out of the centre, according to footage of the attack. Others were forced to hide inside.

Police say three people were killed and four others were injured with gunshot wounds. Several other people received minor injuries as they fled the shopping centre, they added.

A young man, armed with a large rifle according to witnesses, was arrested without violence shortly after the arrival of the police.

After the shooting, a big contingent of heavily armed police officers patrolled the area, with several fire department vehicles also parked outside the shopping centre.

Who were the victims?

Copenhagen chief police inspector Søren Thomassen said the three people who were killed were a 17-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, both Danes, and a 47-year-old Russian man.

The four other people who were treated for gunshot wounds are two Danish and two Swedish citizens. They were in a critical but stable condition, Thomassen said.

What do we know about the suspect?

Police have described the man as a “native Dane”. Chief police inspector Søren Thomassen said he was known to the police “only marginally”. 

Thomassen said police had no indication that anyone helped the gunman, identified as a 22-year-old Dane, during the attack. He said while the motive was unclear, there was nothing suggesting terrorism.

Police said they seized a rifle from the suspect who also carried a knife. “We also know that he has had access to a gun,” Thomassen said, adding “I will not comment further on it now.”

He confirmed that the suspect was known to mental health services but provided no further information.

Earlier, police said that they were investigating videos posted online purporting to show the suspect with guns pointed at his temple, raising questions over his psychiatric condition.

Thomassen dismissed reports that the perpetrator may have targeted specific people.

“We do not have anything to support this, and we are also aware that on social media there is also an abundance of talk whether there should be a racist motive for any of this or some other form of motive. We simply cannot say that we have anything to support this here and now,” he said.

Thomassen said the 22-year-old would be arraigned later on Monday on preliminary charges of murder.

What have eyewitness accounts described?

Laurits Hermansen told the DR station that he was in a clothing store at the shopping centre with his family when he heard “three-four bangs. Really loud bangs. It sounded like the shots were being fired just next to the store.”

“All of a sudden we heard gunshots, I heard ten shots, and we ran as far as we could to take refuge in the toilets,” Isabella, who hid there for two hours, told DR public television channel. “I was scared, many people were crying”.

Images from the scene showed people running out of the shopping centre. Danish broadcaster TV2 posted a photo of a man being put on a stretcher. Witnesses said people were crying and hid in shops.

TV2 published a grainy photo of the alleged gunman, a man wearing knee-length shorts, a vest or sleeveless shirt, and holding what appeared to be a rifle in his right hand.

“He seemed very violent and angry,” eyewitness Mahdi Al-Wazni told TV2. “He spoke to me and said it (the rifle) isn’t real as I was filming him. He seemed very proud of what he was doing.”

Some witnesses interviewed by Danish media said the suspect tried to trick victims, saying for example that his gun was fake to get them to come closer. “He was psychopathic enough to go out and stalk people, but he wasn’t running,” one said.

What has been the reaction?

Many visitors were at the scene before a concert by British star Harry Styles at a nearby venue, which was cancelled later in the evening.

“My team and I pray for everyone involved in the Copenhagen shopping mall shooting. I am shocked. Love H,” the British star wrote on Snapchat.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen blasted a “cruel attack” in a shopping centre 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.

A large police presence was deployed to the scene of the shooting and in several places around Copenhagen, in sharp contrast to the celebratory scenes two days earlier when the Tour de France passed through the Danish capital.

The last attack in Copenhagen was on 14 and 15 February 2015, when a 22-year-old man was killed in a shootout with police after going on a shooting spree in the capital that left two people dead and five police officers wounded. That attack was believed to have been motivated by Islamic extremism.

The shooting came a week after a mass shooting in neighbouring Norway, where police said a Norwegian man of Iranian origin opened fire during a LGBTQ festival in Oslo, killing two and wounding more than 20


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