Copenhagen shooting suspect charged with murder

Man (22) detained for 24 days over killing of three people at shopping centre in capital

A 22-year-old man suspected of shooting dead three people at a Copenhagen shopping centre on Sunday afternoon has been remanded in custody in a closed psychiatric facility. Flanked by armed police officers, the unnamed man in a blue T-shirt was brought to a Copenhagen court for a two-hour hearing after which he was locked away for 24 days – with the possibility of an extension.

During interrogation late on Sunday he reportedly confessed to carrying out the shooting spree. He now faces three cases of murder and four cases of attempted murder after opening fire in the Field’s complex in southern Copenhagen at around 5.30pm on Sunday.

Among his victims: a 47-year-old Russian citizen living in Denmark, a 17-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl.

Four others were seriously injured in the shooting: two Danish women aged 19 and 40 and two Swedish citizens, a 50-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl.

Three of those seriously injured were out of danger, according to the Rigshospitalet university hospital. It is treating some 20 others for minor injuries after the shooting at the shopping centre, located between the city centre and Copenhagen airport.

At a press conference on Monday police chief Soren Thomassen said the victims appeared to have been chosen at random and that investigators had found no clues indicating this was a terror attack.

He confirmed the authenticity of videos circulating on social media, showing the suspect posing with weapons and criticising a named anti-psychotic medication that he claimed “doesn’t work”.

The YouTube videos, since blocked, were given names such as “feeling sad”, “killer music” and “last thing to listen to”.

Police declined to comment on a report by DR public television that the suspected gunman had sought psychological assistance before the attack.

The police chief said the suspect, a Danish citizen, is believed to have acted alone, was “not someone we particularly know” but is “known to psychiatric services, beyond that I do not wish to comment”.

At the time of the attack the shopping centre was busier than usual, filled with young people on their way to a Harry Styles concert at a nearby venue.

One 16-year-old woman from outside Copenhagen told a local newspaper on Monday how she was waiting for surgery after being shot while on an escalator. “I felt warm, then I heard a bang,” she told the Kristianstadsbladet daily. “I realised I had been hit, turned my head and saw the gunman for a few seconds, then I tried to stop the bleeding.”

The shopping centre, one of Denmark’s largest, is located near a secondary school and student accommodation so is often full with young people.

Isabelle, another eye witness, told DR television: “Suddenly we heard shots: 10 I think. We run through the shopping centre and end up in a tiny toilet, 11 people.”

Gun violence is rare in Denmark and it is seven years since a gunman attacked a free speech forum featuring controversial cartoonist Lars Vilks, killing one and wounding three others.

An applicant for a gun licence in Denmark must pass a background check which considers criminal and mental health. The Ekstra Bladet newspaper reported the gunman was a member of a hunting club on an island near the capital and had access to its weapons depot.

Police say he appeared well-prepared for the attack and was armed with a rifle, a pistol and a knife. Danish police on Monday confirmed the weapons had been legally purchased but that the main suspect did not have a permit for them.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin