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Danish police say the deadly mall shooting was apparently a random attack

Updated July 4, 2022 at 11:17 am ET

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – A gunman who shot dead three people in a crowded shopping mall worked alone and apparently chose his prey randomly, Danish police said Monday, denying the attack was an “act of terrorism.”

Prosecutor Soren Harbo told reporters that authorities have filed a preliminary charge of murder and attempted murder against a 22-year-old Danish man, who will be kept in a safe mental health facility for 24 days while authorities investigate the crime. Police said the man was not familiar with mental health services.

Police could not identify the cause of Sunday’s attack on one of Scandinavia’s largest shopping centers. The suspect, who was carrying a rifle and a knife, was quickly arrested, and Copenhagen’s chief police inspector, Soren Thomasen, said the man also had access to another gun. He said the firearms were found illegally but did not provide details.

“It was the worst possible nightmare,” Danish Prime Minister Matt Frederickson said Monday, calling the attack “unusually brutal”.

The three killed, according to Thomasen, were a 17-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, both Dennis and a 47-year-old Russian man. Four others were hospitalized with gunshot wounds and their condition is critical but stable. At least 30 people have been injured in a stampede following a shooting at a field shopping center on the outskirts of the Danish capital.

Gun violence is relatively rare in Denmark. The last shooting on this scale took place in February 2015, when a 22-year-old man was killed in a gunfight with police after an attack in the capital left two dead and five police officers injured.

People react in front of Field's shopping center in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Sunday, July 3, 2022.  A gunman opened fire inside a busy shopping mall in the Danish capital on Sunday.

Olafur Steiner Rai Geston / AP

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AP

People react in front of Field’s shopping center in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Sunday, July 3, 2022. A gunman opened fire inside a busy shopping mall in the Danish capital on Sunday.

The suspect, who is not going to be named in the court order, faced initial charges of three murders and four attempted murders in front of a judge in a full courtroom on Monday. This is one step lower than the formal complaint but allows the authorities to detain a person during the investigation.

The judge told the media to leave and the detention hearing was held behind closed doors. It was not immediately clear how the suspect applied. He will be kept in custody till July 26, police said.

Thomasen said police have no indication that anyone helped the man.

“There is nothing in our investigation, or in the documents we have reviewed, or in the things we have found, or in the statements of witnesses we have, that can prove that this is an act of terrorism,” said Thomasen, who previously identified a “racial den.” As people, a phrase is usually used to mean someone white.

Danish broadcaster TV 2 has released a granular image of the alleged gunman, a man wearing knee-length shorts, a vest or sleeveless shirt and a rifle in his right hand.

“He looked very violent and angry,” eyewitness Mahdi al-Wazni told TV2. “He talked to me and said it wasn’t real (rifle) because I was portraying him. He’s very proud of what he’s doing.”

Images obtained from the scene show people running outside the mall, where people give flowers on Monday.

Chasandra Stoltz, an 18-year-old student who was on her way to a Harry Styles concert that was nearby on Sunday night, described being trampled when the shot rang. At first, she and her sister and father thought someone had seen the style – but she soon realized the panic, including one who grabbed her child from a stroller in the chaos.

“People were showing us the way to the exit sign, and we climbed onto the roof and we were stuck there for a while and then people were panicking everywhere and people were crying,” Stoltz said.

The Styles concert has been canceled due to the shooting.

Sunday’s attack came about a week after a shooting in neighboring Norway, where police say a Norwegian man of Iranian descent opened fire during the LGBTQ festival, killing two and injuring more than 20.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.




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