Three people were killed and several injured in a shooting at a Copenhagen shopping center on Sunday, according to police, who arrested a suspect, a 22-year-old Dane.
The young man, who according to witnesses was armed with a large rifle, was arrested without violence shortly after the police arrived near the large Fields shopping mall, which lies between the city center and the Danish capital’s airport.
“There are three dead and several injured, three of them in critical condition,” said Copenhagen Police Chief Inspector Soren Thomassen at a press conference.
The suspect’s motives, described by police as a 22-year-old “ethnic Dane,” remain unclear. He was known to the police “but only marginally,” said Thomassen. “He’s not someone we particularly know.”
The three killed are a man in his 40s and two young people whose ages are not given.
“We see on social networks that there is a racist motive or some other motive, but I can’t say that we don’t currently have anything that supports this,” specified the investigator.
However, police confirmed they are investigating videos posted online that claim to show the suspect with a gun, the barrel of which he is pointing at his temple, which also question his psychiatric condition. A little earlier, the investigators had not wanted to rule out an act of terrorism, but explained that their hypothesis was that the alleged shooter had acted alone.
Two days after the Tour de France drove through the Danish capital amid great cheering scenes, a large police presence was deployed at the scene of the shooting and at several locations in Copenhagen.
The killing occurred around 5:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. GMT) and sparked panic. Crowds were there ahead of a concert by British star Harry Styles at a nearby great hall that was canceled that evening.
According to witnesses questioned by Danish media, the suspect tried to ensnare victims, for example by saying his gun was fake to trick them into getting closer. “He was psychopathic enough to stalk people, but he didn’t run away,” said a witness interviewed by public broadcaster DR.
When the first shots were heard, more than a hundred people stormed out of the mall, according to footage of the incident. Others had to hide in it.
“All of a sudden we heard shots, I heard ten shots, and we ran as fast as we could to get to the toilets,” explained Dr. Isabella, who stayed hidden there for two hours. “I was scared, a lot of people cried.”
“Run for Our Lives”
According to the Mayor of Copenhagen, Sophie Haestorp Andersen, a crisis team and a psychological care center were triggered.
“My girls had to go to Harry Styles. They called me to say someone shot. They were in a restaurant when it happened,” Hans Christian Stolz, a 53-year-old Swede who came to pick up his children, told AFP. “We thought at first it was people running away because they saw Harry Styles, then we realized it was people panicking […] We ran for our lives,” adds his daughter Cassandra.
“My team and I are praying for everyone affected by the shooting at the Copenhagen mall. I’m shocked,” the British star said on Snapchat.
The police did not provide any information about the motive for the shooting. Footage of the arrest shows the suspect, dressed in white coveralls to preserve DNA evidence, being apprehended by officers.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has blasted a “cruel attack” on a shopping center where “adults, young people and children” were present. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and several foreign heads of state sent their thoughts and condolences, as did the organization of the Tour de France.
The most recent attack in Copenhagen dates back to February 14-15, 2015, when a series of Islamist-motivated gunfire killed two and wounded five.