After the act of violence in a Copenhagen shopping center with at least three dead, the Danish police are meticulously looking for the background. “We do not yet know the motive, but I can assure you that the authorities are doing everything possible to clarify this case and that those responsible can be prosecuted,” Justice Minister Mattias Tesfaye told the Ritzau agency.
Police chief inspector Søren Thomassen said on Monday night in the Danish capital, according to local media, that the victims were a man between the ages of 40 and 50 and two young people. Three other people were seriously injured and in critical condition.
A suspect has been arrested. It is a 22-year-old Dane. In view of the circumstances, the arrest was “relatively undramatic”, said Thomassen.
The shots were fired late Sunday afternoon in the Fields shopping center, which is located in the relatively new district of Ørestad in the south of Copenhagen, between the center of the Danish capital and the airport. According to eyewitness reports, panic broke out among the visitors. After the first shots, more than a hundred people fled the building.
Thomassen did not provide any information about the possible motive. There is speculation about a racist background on social media, he said. There is currently no evidence of this. A few hours earlier, the police chief had said about the motive for the crime that “it cannot be ruled out that it is terrorism”. The police are therefore examining recordings distributed on the online networks that are intended to show how the perpetrator pointed the gun at his own temple.
Eyewitnesses described the perpetrator as about 1.80 meters tall and armed with a hunting rifle. The alleged shooter was “basically known” to the police, but only “peripherally,” said Thomassen. He did not provide any further information on this.
Police believe the perpetrator acted alone. “Until we are absolutely certain that the hypothesis is correct, we will conduct a wide-ranging investigation and maintain a massive operational presence in Copenhagen until we can say he was alone,” Thomassen said. The man had a gun and ammunition with him when he was arrested. Another weapon may have been involved.
The arrested person is to be questioned this Monday, it was said. He will be charged with manslaughter. However, the allegation could still change. The police initially did not want to say whether the man was a member of a rifle club and whether he legally owned the gun.
The previous information is associated with uncertainty, said chief inspector Thomassen. He spoke of a kind of chaos phase. The police were alerted at around 5.30 p.m. and were on duty at the crime scene with strong forces well into the night.
A helicopter hovered over the area. The police called on eyewitnesses to provide video and photo material.
The forces cordoned off the entire island of Zealand, on which the Danish capital is located. Several roads and highway exits were closed. In order to have more forces available to investigate the crime, soldiers took over guard duties from the police. The authorities set up a place where eyewitnesses could give their testimony and receive psychological support.
A reception with the Danish Crown Prince Frederik on the royal ship “Dannebrog” in the port of Sønderborg in honor of the Tour de France cycling tour, which started in Copenhagen on Friday, has been cancelled.
A performance by British singer Harry Styles at a nearby concert hall, the Royal Arena, was also canceled. The concert organizer Live Nation announced that this was done on the orders of the Danish police. It is assumed that many concertgoers stayed in the shopping center just a few hundred meters away, for example to eat something.
The Danish royal family called for cohesion. “The situation requires unity and care, and we thank the police, the emergency services and the health authorities for their quick and effective action during these hours,” said a statement from Queen Margrethe II and the crown prince couple – Frederik and Mary – late Sunday evening.
The royal family was shocked by the “shocking news”. “Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with the victims, their families and all those affected by the tragedy.”
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen condemned the act as a “cruel attack”. She called on the people of the country to stick together and support one another. “We were all brutally snapped out of the bright summer we had just begun,” shared Fredriksen. “It is incomprehensible. heartbreaking. useless. Our beautiful and otherwise safe capital was changed in a split second.”