Copenhagen shooting: Gunman charged with murder

StarAvis Desk
StarAvis Desk
6 Min Read
Police guard an area in front of the Field's shopping centre in Copenhagen [Sergei Grits/AP Photo]

A 22-year-old man suspected of killing three people at a shopping centre in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen has been charged with murder.

Two Danish citizens, both aged 17, and a 47-year-old Russian citizen were killed in Sunday’s attack.

Police said the suspect had mental health issues and there is no indication of a terror motive.

He had a rifle and a knife and his shooting was random – “not motivated by gender or anything else” – they said.

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The suspect appeared in front of a court in a blue T-shirt accompanied by three heavily armed officers, Danish media report.

The suspect’s lawyers refused to enter a plea for the accused while the media were present and the judge ordered the rest of the hearing to be behind closed doors. The judge also imposed a name ban on both the suspect and the victims.

The suspect will be remanded in a closed psychiatric ward for 24 days, authorities said.

Speaking to reporters earlier on Monday, police chief Soeren Thomassen said they believed the suspect – described as “an ethnic Dane” – was acting alone and was not helped by anyone else.

He added that the suspect was known “peripherally” to police.

Police are also investigating videos of a young man with weapons which have been circulating on social media since Sunday, and believe them to be authentic.

Four people were seriously wounded in the attack.

Two are Danish citizens – a 40-year-old woman and a 19-year old woman. The other two are Swedes – a 50-year-old man and a 16-year old woman.

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One remains in critical condition, the chief physician at one of the hospitals treating some of the victims said, giving no further details.

The deadly attack began at Field’s shopping mall at around 17:35 (15:35 GMT) local time on Sunday, according to police reports.

The multi-storey shopping centre – one of the biggest in Denmark – is near a secondary school as well as a large student housing block, and is often full of young people.

Several of those present at the shopping centre spoke of how they fled the scene or hid in toilets, shops and storage rooms.

One of them, named Isabelle, told Danish media: “Suddenly we hear shots – 10 shots I think – and then we run through the mall and end up in a toilet, where we huddle together in this tiny toilet, where we are around 11 people.”

“It’s really hot and we wait and we are really scared. It’s been a terrible experience.”

13-year-old Isabella Hjertholm told: “When we saw people running out of the cinema, at first I didn’t think it was anything serious, until I heard people say somebody was shooting.”

“I didn’t really know where to exit since I don’t know the mall that well, so I just followed a big group going to some type of rooftop, and luckily we found an emergency exit,” she said.

Police arrested the suspect near the mall – 13 minutes after being alerted to the attack.

Less than a mile from the shopping mall, British singer Harry Styles was due to perform at a 17,000-capacity venue where crowds had already gathered inside before the show was cancelled.

Fans – many in their teens – were escorted by police to underground stations where parents picked them up, Danish media report.

Praising the police’s response, concert-goer Jan Muller told the BBC: “They acted really quickly, organising transport for everyone.”

Dozens of heavily-armed officers have been standing guard outside the Field’s shopping centre all morning, while investigators have been filing in and out.

The steps to the main entrance remain cordoned off with tape, and police vehicles line the street outside.

This is a smart office district on the outskirts of Copenhagen, but today the surroundings are quiet.

At the weekend this area would have been particularly busy. The mall is a popular spot for families and young people, and at the time of the shooting thousands of music fans were making their way to the Royal Arena concert hall, to see Harry Styles perform.

For this small Nordic country, where gun violence is rare and mass shootings are almost unheard of, Sunday’s events are deeply shocking.

People embrace outside Fields shopping centre in Copenhagen on July 3 [Ritzau Scanpix/Olafur Steinar Gestsson via Reuters]

Only a couple of days earlier, the Tour de France had started in Copenhagen, and there had been a celebratory mood as spectators lined streets around the city.

Though it’s thought the suspect acted alone, police are keeping a visible presence across the capital.

Source: BBC

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