Police in Copenhagen report that an unnamed man suspected of two shootings has been shot and killed. The police said that he was known to them, but they do not know if he had any connection with unrest in Iraq or Syria. They will not release his name due to the fact that the investigation is ongoing.
The man was traced to a train station where he was shot in a confrontation with police just hours after he carried out two shootings. The first shooting took place at a café in the city’s cultural center where controversial Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks was hosting an event on free speech. Mr. Vilks survived the attack without injury, however, three police officers were injured and a 55-year-old man was killed. The second attack targeted Copenhagen’s main synagogue during a bar mitzvah. The man opened fire at police and a volunteer guard outside the synagogue.
The shooter fled first in a car and then on foot. Police identified and traced him to the train station using CCTV footage. They are certain that he is behind both attacks. He had no accomplices. Authorities said that the attacks had been planned, but the suspect’s motive was unclear. The head of Denmark’s PET security agency, Jens Madsen, told reporters that they were investigating any possible link to the events of January 7 in Paris.
France’s ambassador to Denmark, Francois Zimeray, also attended the event at the cultural center. Shortly after the attack he told the press, “it was the same intention as Charlie Hebdo except they didn’t manage to get in.” He said that he thought there were at least 50 gunshots during the attack. Police estimate closer to 200. It is likely that the suspect used an automatic rifle.
Police in Sweden, separated from Denmark by a five-mile bridge, helped Copenhagen police in the investigation. It was believed that the gunman might try to escape the country. The suspect was described as being in his late 20s and carrying an assault rifle. At about 5 a.m., police tracked the suspect to a Copenhagen train station and he was shot in the confrontation.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark’s prime minister, called the events in Copenhagen a terrorist attack. She pledged her support to the Jewish community and said that this was not part of a conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims, but an attack on freedom by a “dark ideology.” She warned that there may be follow-up attacks by others and put the country on high alert.
People all over the world are announcing their support for the people of Denmark. Political leaders have condemned the attacks. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls tweeted, “Solidarity with the Danes.”
The attack is also prompting action by many political leaders. Security services across Europe are becoming overwhelmed with the magnitude of the terror threat. A carnival in Germany was cancelled on Sunday over fears of an Islamist attack.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, believes that although Copenhagen police shot the suspect involved in these shootings, the threat to European Jews remains. He urged them to consider moving to Israel to be safe from the threat in Europe, saying, “Israel is your home.” Danish Jews feel differently, however. Denmark’s chief rabbi responded to the offer by saying that “terror is not a reason to move to Israel.”
By Kirstin Pinto