The police received a call around 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday evening. A man armed with a bow and arrow had started firing seemingly randomly in the center of Kongsberg, a town of 26,000 inhabitants 66 kilometers from the Norwegian capital Oslo.
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“I heard a lot of noise outside, saw a woman take cover and then I saw a man standing with a bow in his hand and arrows in a carrying case slung over his shoulder,” a woman said. TV2. “I have seen people running for their lives. One of them was a woman who was carrying her child.” Another witness talks about an “irreal and terrible incident”. She was jogging when she suddenly saw a lot of police. There she heard that someone with a bow and arrow was shooting people. “Very nasty. I immediately ran home and locked the door. That’s how scared I was.”
The incident is said to have started in or near the Coop store chain, after which the suspect moved through the center of the city. According to the police, he also used weapons other than bow and arrow in the attack, but it is unclear which ones.
How many victims are there?
The suspect hit seven people. Five of them did not survive the facts. It concerns four women and a man, all between 50 and 70 years old. Three were also seriously injured. One of them was a police officer, it turns out, though he wasn’t on the job at the time, so wasn’t wearing his uniform. That police officer was released from the hospital on Thursday evening, reports NRK.
The police arrived on the scene with an impressive display of force. Helicopters, dogs and armed troops were deployed and the suspect was arrested after a 34-minute manhunt. The man tried to flee and also fired arrows at the officers, but was quickly overpowered. He appeared to act alone. The agents suspect that the five deaths only occurred after the suspect was face to face with the police for the first time.
After the incident, officers across the country were told to carry their weapons visibly as a precaution, which is not required in Norway in the event of further attacks. They didn’t come in the end.
Who is the guy?
It concerns 37-year-old Dane Espen Anders Brathen, who has been living in Kongsberg for several years. The police have already said that the man is no stranger to them, and that he has also been in regular contact with the health services in the country in recent years. The man has already had six convictions in the past, Norwegian media have learned. Last year, he was given a six-month restraining order against two family members after he threatened to kill one of them. He also received sentences for theft, burglary and drug possession.
What was his motive?
According to the police, the man had recently converted to Islam and many cases indicate that he was radicalized. The incident is currently considered an act of terrorism, although the investigation into his motive is still ongoing.
The suspect was interrogated for the first time by the police and, according to his lawyer, cooperated constructively. He gives detailed explanations about what happened NRK. Police chief Ole Saeverud said at a press conference that the man has explained why he did it and admitted that he committed the offences.
According to his lawyer, the thirty-year-old is “affected” by the situation. He will be arraigned at the District Court in Kongsberg at 9 a.m. Friday. Earlier it was also said that the man will be examined by psychiatric experts who will assess the psychological condition of the man. If it is found that he was not responsible at the time of the offenses, a prison sentence could be evaded, although there are also exceptions to that rule.
People living in the vicinity of the drama were also questioned on Thursday. They were also asked if they had seen or heard anything.
How is the response?
Kongsberg mayor Kari Anne Sand calls it “a tragedy”. “I have no words for this.” Acting Prime Minister Erna Solberg called the attack “horrific”. “The information we are getting from Kongsberg is appalling.” Jonas Gahr Stoere, the man who will become prime minister on Thursday, talks about a “horrific and brutal act”.
“I am shocked and saddened by what has happened in Norway,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts are with the bereaved families and with all residents of Norway.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg writes on Twitter that his thoughts also go out to all relatives. “Shocking news. Together we must not give hatred and violence a chance.”
The square in Kongsburg where the victims are commemorated is now filled with hundreds of candles and flowers from people who come to show their support. Many people have also gathered in the square.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl will travel to Kongsberg on Friday to show their support. What happened on Wednesday in Kongsberg does not change the level of terror. At a press conference Thursday evening, police reported that the threat level is still considered ‘moderate’.