By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Police said Sunday’s attack targeted Field’s, which has over 140 shops and restaurants, prompting the arrest of a 22-year-old Danish man. He allegedly killed two Danish teenagers, both aged 17, and a 47-year-old Russian citizen residing in Denmark. Four people, including two Swedish citizens, are in critical but stable condition in hospital, said police inspector Søren Thomassen at a press conference. Thomassen said the suspect had a history of mental health issues and that he appeared to have randomly targeted his victims. There was no indication yet it was an act of terror, he added. However police were still investigating videos posted online showing a young man posing with weapons
Copenhagen Mayor Sophie Andersen described the incident as “very serious” without providing details about the exact death toll. Earlier reports spoke only of injured victims, but police and medics discovered the carnage was even more severe than previously feared.
Social media showed people fleeing the scene as gunfire reverberated inside the Field’s mall in the south of the city.
Eyewitnesses spoke of chaotic scenes as security forces rushed to the scene, blocking roads around the shopping center and the underground metro line linking it to the city. One eyewitness, Emilie Jeppesen, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper: “You didn’t know what was happening. Suddenly there was just chaos everywhere.”
Another witness, Mahdi Al-Wazni, told Denmark’s TV 2 that the shooter had carried a “hunting rifle.”
Ambulance and fire crews were at the scene as the scale of the attack became clear. Besides those killed, the capital’s main hospital, Rigshospitalet, said it received a “small group of patients” for treatment.
It had called in extra staff, including surgeons and nurses, a spokesman added.
Police said they were first alerted to the shooting at 5:36 p.m. A massive presence of heavily-armed police officers rushed to the scene, with several fire department vehicles parked outside the mall.
“One person has been arrested in connection with the shooting at Fields. We currently cannot say more about the person concerned,” Copenhagen police said on social networking site Twitter. “We have a massive presence at Fields and are working on getting an overview.”
A concert by Harry Styles, the former member of English-Irish pop boy band One Direction, was scheduled to be held at the nearby Royal Arena.
On the Snapchat messaging service, Styles wrote,” My team and I pray for everyone involved in the Copenhagen shopping mall shooting. I am shocked. Love H.” Organizers said the concert would go ahead after close coordination with local police.
Shortly after the shooting, the royal palace said a reception with Crown Prince Frederik connected to the Tour de France cycling race had been canceled.
The first three stages of the race were held in Denmark this year, the palace explained in a statement. The reception was due to be held on the royal yacht moored in Soenderborg, the town where the third stage ended.
Sunday’s shooting came shortly after elsewhere in Scandinavia, two men were killed, and 21 people were injured as a gunman opened fire near a gay bar in central Oslo, Norway, last month.
Denmark last saw a significant terror event in 2015, when two people were killed and six police officers were injured during an attack on a cultural center and a synagogue in Copenhagen. The gunman was later killed in a shootout with police.
Several neighboring leaders expressed horror at Sunday’s shooting and offered condolences to the families of those impacted. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin condemned what she called a “shocking act of violence.”
Norwegian leader Jonas Gahr Store said his “thoughts go to the victims and their relatives and to the relief crews who are currently working to save lives.”
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