Denmark: Gunman kills three, wounds several at Copenhagen mall

Police arrest a 22-year-old ‘ethnic Dane’ over the killing of three people in a gun attack in the Danish capital.

People embrace outside Fields shopping centre, after Danish police said they received reports of a shooting at the site, in Copenhagen
People embrace outside Fields shopping centre, after Danish police said they received reports of a shooting at the site, in Copenhagen, Denmark [Reuters]

At least three people have been killed and several more have been wounded in a shooting at a shopping mall in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

Police Inspector Soren Thomassen told reporters that a 22-year-old Danish man was arrested over Sunday’s shooting and charged with manslaughter.

He said there was no indication that anyone else was involved in the attack, and said that it was too early to speculate on a motive for the shooting.

The attack rocked Denmark at the end of an otherwise joyful week, just after it hosted the first three stages of the Tour de France cycle race. The event had sent hundreds of thousands of cheering Danes into the streets across the country.

“Denmark was hit by a cruel attack on Sunday night. Several were killed. Even more wounded. Innocent families shopping or eating out. Children, adolescents and adults,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a statement late on Sunday.

“Our beautiful and usually so safe capital was changed in a split second,” she said. “I want to encourage the Danes to stand together and support each other in this difficult time.”

The shooting happened in the late afternoon at Field’s, one of the biggest shopping malls in Scandinavia and located on the outskirts of the Danish capital.

When the shots rang out, some people hid in shops while others fled in a panicked stampede, according to witnesses.

“It is pure terror. This is awful,” said Hans Christian Stoltz, a 53-year-old IT consultant, who was bringing his daughters to see British singer Harry Styles perform at a concert scheduled for Sunday night near the mall. “You might wonder how a person can do this to another human being, but it’s beyond … beyond anything that’s possible.”

Local media published images showing heavily armed police officers at the scene, as well as people running out of the mall.

Thomassen said the victims included a man in his 40s and two “young people,” without giving details. Several others were wounded, three of them critically, he said.

The inspector said police received the first reports of a shooting at 5:37pm (15:37 GMT) and arrested the suspect 11 minutes later. He described the suspect as an “ethnic Dane”, a phrase typically used to mean someone is white.

He added that the investigation so far did not point towards a racist motive or otherwise, but said this could change.

Danish tabloid BT published unverified video footage it said was shot by a witness to the attack, Mahdi Al-wazni, showing a man with a large rifle walking through the mall and swinging it around his shoulders.

“He seemed very aggressive and shouted different things,” Al-wazni told BT.

Footage published by tabloid Ekstra Bladet showed one person being carried by rescue workers into an ambulance on a stretcher.

“People first thought it was a thief … Then I suddenly hear shots and threw myself behind the counter inside the store,” a witness, Rikke Levandovski, told broadcaster TV2.

“He is just shooting into the crowd, not up in the ceiling or into the floor,” she added.

An ambulance and armed police stand outside Field's shopping centre in Copenhagen, Denmark.
An ambulance and armed police outside Field’s shopping centre [Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Reuters]

Al Jazeera’s Nadeem Baba, reporting from London, said: “This will be a huge shock for people in Denmark … it was a very peaceful Sunday afternoon.”

Styles, the singer who had been due to perform at 8pm (18:00 GMT) at a venue less than 1.5km (1 mile) from the mall, was forced to cancel his concert.

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

Shortly after the shooting, the royal palace said a reception with Crown Prince Frederik connected to the Tour de France cycle race had been cancelled.

In a joint statement, Queen Margrethe, her son Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, Crown Princess Mary, said: “We do not yet know the full extent of the tragedy, but it is already clear that more people have lost their lives and that even more have been injured.”

“The situation calls for unity and care,” they said in a statement.

The shooting comes just more than a week after a gunman opened fire outside a gay bar in Oslo in neighbouring Norway, killing two people and wounding 21 others.

It was also the worst gun attack in Denmark since February 2015, when a 22-year-old man was killed in a shoot-out with police after going on a shooting spree in the capital that left two people dead and five police officers wounded.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies