World

Deadly Denmark mall attack likely not terror-related, police say

Danish police believe a shopping mall shooting that left three people dead and four others seriously wounded was not terror-related, and said Monday that the gunman acted alone and appears to have selected his victims at random.

Victims include a 17-year-old boy, 17-year-old girl and 47-year-old Russian man

Police stand behind a security cordon outside Field's shopping mall on Monday, a day after a deadly shooting in Copenhagen. (Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images)

A gunman who killed three people when he opened fire in a crowded shopping mall acted alone and apparently selected his victims at random, Danish police said Monday, all but ruling out that the attack was an "act of terrorism."

Authorities filed preliminary charges of murder and attempted murder against a 22-year-old Danish man, who will be held for 24 days in a secure mental health facility while authorities investigate the crime, prosecutor Soren Harbo told reporters. Police have said the man was known to mental health services without elaborating.

Police have not identified a motive for Sunday's attack inside one of Scandinavia's biggest shopping centres. The suspect, carrying a rifle and knife, was quickly arrested, and Copenhagen chief police Insp. Soren Thomassen said the man also had access to another gun. He said the firearms were obtained illegally but gave no further details.

"It was the worst possible nightmare," Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Monday, calling the attack "unusually brutal."

30 people hurt, most in panicked stampede

The three killed were a 17-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, both Danes, and a 47-year-old Russian man, according to Thomassen. Four more people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds and were in critical but stable condition. In all 30 people were hurt, most in the panicked stampede after the shots rang out at the Field's shopping centre on the outskirts of the Danish capital.

Gun violence is rare in Denmark. The last shooting of this scale was in February 2015, when a 22-year-old man was killed in a shoot-out with police after an attack in the capital that left two people dead and five police officers wounded.

Women hug each other outside Copenhagen's Field's shopping mall, where a gunman killed three people and wounded several others. Police say they don't believe the shooting was terror-related. (Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images)

The suspect, who cannot be named by court order, was brought before a judge Monday in a packed courtroom to face three preliminary charges of murder and four of attempted murder. They are a step short of formal charges but allow authorities to keep a person in custody during an investigation.

The judge asked media to leave and held the detention hearing behind closed doors. It wasn't immediately clear how the suspect pleaded. He will remain in custody until July 28, police said.

Thomassen said police had no indication that anyone helped the gunman, and his motive remains unclear.

"There is nothing in our investigation, or the documents we have reviewed, or the things we have found, or the witnesses' statements we have gotten, that can substantiate that this is an act of terrorism," said Thomassen, who previously identified the suspect as an "ethnic Dane," a phrase typically used to mean someone is white.

'He seemed very violent and angry'

Danish broadcaster TV2 published a grainy photo of the alleged gunman, a man wearing knee-length shorts, a vest or sleeveless shirt, and holding what appeared to be a rifle in his right hand.

"He seemed very violent and angry," eyewitness Mahdi Al-Wazni told 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."

Images from the scene showed people running out of the mall, where people laid flowers on Monday.

Flowers and candles are seen Monday near the site of the shooting. (Thibault Savary/AFP/Getty Images)

Chassandra Stoltz, an 18-year-old student who was on her way to a Harry Styles concert that was scheduled for Sunday night nearby, described a stampede as the shots rang out. At first, she and her sister and father thought it was because someone had spotted Styles — but she soon realized the panic, including a man who grabbed his child from a stroller in the chaos.

"People were guiding us toward the exit sign, and we ran up the roof and we were stuck there for a while and then people were panicking all over the place and people were crying," Stoltz said.

The Styles concert was cancelled due to the shooting.

'I am shocked,' music star Harry Styles says

On Snapchat, Styles wrote: "My team and I pray for everyone involved in the Copenhagen shopping mall shooting. I am shocked. Love H."

The multi-storey Field's shopping centre is on the outskirts of Copenhagen just across from a subway station for a line that connects the city centre with the international airport. A major highway also runs adjacent to the mall.

The shooting came a week after a mass shooting in neighbouring Norway, where police said a Norwegian man of Iranian origin opened fire during an LGBTQ festival, killing two and wounding more than 20.

now