Police shoot dead suspect in Copenhagen attacks

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Press on the scene at the cordoned-off Krudttønden.
Image: Kim Bach.

Police in Denmark have shot dead a man they believe was responsible for two gun attacks that killed two people in Copenhagen yesterday. Police had kept a property in the Nørrebro district of the city under surveillance. When the man returned to the property, they confronted him and shot him in the ensuing fire fight.

Jorgen Skov, a police investigator, said "nothing at this point suggests there were other perpetrators" than the man shot today. Yesterday, he was allegedly involved in two shooting incidents in the city.

The first shooting took place in a café at the Krudttoenden cultural center which was hosting a discussion about blasphemy and free speech, relating to the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who organised the meeting, was subjected to death threats following publication of a number of drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. Vilks' website says the event was timed to coincide with the fatwa placed on the British novelist Salman Rushdie. The event also hosted Inna Shevchenko, an activist with the feminist protest group FEMEN.

François Zimeray, France's ambassador to Denmark, attended the event. He told reporters: "They shot from the outside [and] had the same intention as Charlie Hebdo, only they didn't manage to get in[...] Intuitively I would say there were at least 50 gunshots, and the police here are saying 200. Bullets went through the doors and everyone threw themselves to the floor."

The second attack yesterday took place outside a synagogue in the Krystalgade area of Copenhagen. The attacker shot and killed, according to the local Jewish community, Dan Uzan, a 37-year-old Jewish man who was volunteering as a security guard outside the synagogue while a bat mitzvah service was held inside.

Floral tributes outside the synagogue.
Image: Kim Bach.

Following the attacks, police released a description and photo of the suspect: he was depicted wearing a black puffer jacket, carrying a black bag, wearing a maroon balaclava, aged between 25 and 30 with a black automatic weapon. The chief police inspector Torben Molgaard Jensen told reporters: "We assume that it's the same culprit behind both incidents."

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish Prime Minister, said yesterday: "We feel certain now that it's a politically motivated attack, and thereby it is a terrorist attack."

Lars Vilks in a statement to Associated Press said he believed the first attack was directed at him: "What other motive could there be? It's possible it was inspired by Charlie Hebdo".

World leaders have condemned the shooting. French President François Hollande described the attacks as "deplorable" and promised the Danish "full solidarity of France in this trial". British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "I condemn the shootings in Copenhagen. Free speech must always be protected." British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Sickened by shooting at free speech event in Copenhagen. My thoughts are with the people of the city and country."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Australian government "condemns the shooting at a free speech event in Copenhagen overnight" and "[t]he thoughts of all Australians are with the people of Denmark and, in particular, the family of the victim who lost his life and the police officers injured in this brutal act of terror. As with the Charlie Hebdo atrocity in Paris, the Copenhagen attack is an affront to one of our most fundamental values — freedom of speech. We stand with the people and government of Denmark in confronting this cynical attempt to undermine that fundamental right."