Man charged over Copenhagen shopping centre attack that killed three

Danish police say they have not ruled out an act of terrorism for Sunday afternoon’s mass shooting at a Copenhagen shopping centre that left three people dead and several others injured. However, they are working on the hypothesis that the shooter acted alone.

They confirmed that they were investigating videos posted online purporting to show the suspect with guns pointed at his temple, raising questions over his psychiatric condition.

A 22-year-old man arrested near the scene has been charged with manslaughter and is due to be questioned by a judge on Monday. Police have described him as a “native Dane”. Copenhagen police chief inspector Søren Thomassen said he was known to the police “only marginally”. 

The young man, armed with a large rifle according to witnesses, was arrested without violence shortly after the arrival of the police on the outskirts of the Fields shopping centre, located between the city centre and the Danish capital’s international airport.

“There are three dead and several injured, three of them in critical condition,” Thomassen told a news conference.

The three killed were a man in his forties and two young people whose ages were not specified. Thomassen dismissed reports that the perpetrator may have targeted specific people.

“We do not have anything to support this, and we are also aware that on social media there is also an abundance of talk whether there should be a racist motive for any of this or some other form of motive. We simply cannot say that we have anything to support this here and now,” he said.

A large police presence was deployed to the scene of the shooting and in several places around Copenhagen, in sharp contrast to the celebratory scenes two days earlier when the Tour de France passed through the Danish capital.

‘We took refuge in the toilets’

The shooting occurred at around 17:30 local time (also 17.30 CET), causing panic. 

When the first shots were heard, more than 100 people rushed out of the centre, according to footage of the incident. Others were forced to hide inside.

“All of a sudden we heard gunshots, I heard ten shots, and we ran as far as we could to take refuge in the toilets,” Isabella, who hid there for two hours, told DR public television channel. “I was scared, many people were crying”.

Some witnesses interviewed by Danish media said the suspect tried to trick victims, saying for example that his gun was fake to get them to come closer. “He was psychopathic enough to go out and stalk people, but he wasn’t running,” one said.

Many visitors were at the scene before a concert by British star Harry Styles at a nearby venue, which was cancelled later in the evening.

The British star said on Snapchat that he was “shocked” and that he and his team were praying for everyone affected by the shooting.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen blasted a “cruel attack” in a shopping centre where “adults, young people and children” were present. Danish Queen Margrethe II and several foreign leaders expressed their thoughts and condolences, as did the Tour de France.

The last attack in Copenhagen was on 14 and 15 February 2015, when a series of Islamist-motivated shootings left two dead and five injured.

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