The Copenhagen shopping mall shooting was a random attack by a suspect with mental health problems, police said on Monday as they ruled out terrorism and revealed two teenage Danes and a Russian were killed.
Police chief inspector Soeren Thomassen said the unnamed 22-year-old suspect – earlier described as an “ethnic Dane” – had acted alone and had apparently fired on people at random during the terrifying 13 minute attack that left three dead on Sunday.
The officer added that the shooting spree - in a shopping complex full of shoppers and Harry Styles fans waiting for a concert by the star nearby - was “not terror-related” and that instead the suspect was “known among psychiatric services” because of his mental health problems.
He said that the unnamed suspect was also “only peripherally known” to police and would face preliminary charges of murder later on Monday.
Denmark Shooting: Field’s Shopping Mall in Copenhagen
“There is nothing in our investigation, or the documents we have reviewed, or the things we have found, or the witness statements we have got, that can substantiate that this is an act of terrorism,” he said.
Chief Inspector Thomassen said the three people killed were a Danish boy and girl, both aged 17, and a 47-year-old Russian and that four other people, two Danes and two Swedes, were left critically injured.
The officer’s disclosures came as disturbing video footage emerged of the suspect carrying a large Scandinavian Target Rifle over his shoulder as he entered the Field’s shopping complex in the south of Copenhagen to carry out his attack.
Other images show him apparently holding the weapon pointing upwards in front of him as he walks forward, aiming the weapon while on a staircase, and then being led away by armed officers in handcuffs with his head bowed. He was wearing knee-length shorts, a dark sleeveless shirt and boots.
Other video footage showed terrified shoppers fleeing in panic screaming, while witnesses described people crying and hiding in shops.
Police gave no further early details about the suspect, although separate film apparently posted by him on YouTube shows him in multiple videos titled “I don’t care” holding guns to his head.
He had also uploaded several playlists not long before the attack with the headings ‘Killer Music’ and ‘Last Thing to Listen To’ and the message underneath that ‘Quetiapine does not work’.
Quetiapine is a drug used as a treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression and to tackle drug addiction.
Meanwhile, witnesses today spoke of their horror at the attack. “He seemed very violent and angry,” eyewitness Mahdi Al-Wazni told Denmark’s TV2.
“He spoke to me and said it (the rifle) isn’t real as I was filming him. He seemed very proud of what he was doing.”
Maximillian von Renteln told the BBC that he was “just outside” the Field’s shopping centre yesterday when he heard loud gunshots.
“At the time, I didn’t think they were gunshots but just a while after I saw people running out – and I instinctively did the same,” he said, describing how a bus he managed to jump onto was later boarded by armed police who ordered passengers to put their hands up before searching a man on board.
“Everyone was in shock, no one knew what was happening. There were kids on board.”
Styles, whose concert at the nearby Royal Arena was cancelled following the attack, also expressed his shock and said he was “heartbroken” by the tragedy.
“I’m devastated for the victims, their families, and everyone hurting. I’m sorry we couldn’t be together. Please look after each other,” he posted.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen described the attack as “cruel” and that “innocent families shopping or eating out” had been among those affected.
“Our beautiful and usually so safe capital was changed in a split second,” she said in a statement. “I want to encourage the Danes to stand together and support each other in this difficult time.”