The chief suspect in a Copenhagen mall shooting was Monday remanded into a psychiatric care facility, one day after three people, including two teenagers, were shot dead.
“The court remands the 22-year-old in a closed psychiatric ward,” Copenhagen police said in a statement, following a two-hour hearing involving the suspect.
The suspected perpetrator of the attack, which took place late on Sunday afternoon, would be kept in custody for at least 24 days, which can then be extended, according to police.
The young man was brought before a judge at midday at the Copenhagen district court on Monday.
Wearing a blue T-shirt, he listened as the indictment for murder was read out, before the hearing continued behind closed doors.
According to public broadcaster DR, citing several unnamed sources, the suspected gunman had tried to reach a psychological help line shortly before the attack, but authorities would not confirm this.
Copenhagen police chief Soren Thomassen had already told a morning press conference that the “suspect is also known among psychiatric services”, but declined to comment further.
The attack occurred on the heels of the city playing host to the start of the Tour de France cycling competition and seeing the return of the Roskilde music festival after being cancelled due to Covid-19 curbs.
“I think we have rarely experienced such a violent contrast as yesterday,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said as she arrived to pay tribute to the victims at the scene.
“But today I think we must pay tribute to the victims, show our sympathy, our help and support, and support all those who have been affected,” she told reporters.
The three killed have been identified as two Danish teens, a girl and boy both aged 17, and a 47-year-old Russian living in Denmark.
Another four were injured in the shooting: two Danish women, aged 19 and 40, and two Swedes, a 50-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl.
Given the varied ages and genders among the victims, Thomassen said they appeared to have been randomly targeted and there was nothing to indicate it was an act of terror.
“Our assessment is that the victims were random, that it isn’t motivated by gender or something else,” Thomassen said.
The police chief could not yet comment on a motive, but said there seemed to have been preparation ahead of the attack and that he was not aided by anyone else.
“As things stand, it seems he was acting alone,” he said of the 22-year-old suspect.
– No licence –
About 20 more were lightly injured in the panicked evacuation after the shooting.
Thomassen added that they believed videos of the suspect, which have circulated since late Sunday on social media, to be authentic.
In some of the images, the young man can be seen posing with weapons, mimicking suicide gestures and talking about psychiatric medication “that does not work”.
Three videos believed to have been posted to YouTube by the suspect were all titled “I don’t care”.
YouTube and Instagram accounts believed to belong to him were closed overnight, AFP noted.
The shooting occurred Sunday afternoon at the busy Field’s shopping mall, located between the city centre and Copenhagen airport.
According to police, the shooter was armed with a rifle, a pistol and a knife, and while the guns were not believed to be illegal, the suspect did not have a licence for them.
‘Are you OK?’
Witnesses quoted by Danish media described how the suspect tried to trick people by saying his weapon was fake to get them to approach.
“He was sufficiently psychopathic to go and hunt people, but he wasn’t running,” one witness told public broadcaster DR.
Other eyewitnesses told Danish media they had seen more than 100 people rush towards the mall’s exit as the first shots were fired.
The mall was busy because of a planned concert with British singer Harry Styles at the nearby Royal Arena that had sold 13,500 tickets but was cancelled at the last minute.
“We got dressed for the concert, we were on our way,” Maria Enevoldsen, who had returned to the mall Monday to pick up her car, told AFP.
“Our friend (in the mall) called, asking ‘are you OK?’ and then we heard gunshots over the phone,” she said.
The shooting came just over a week after a gunman opened fire near a gay bar in Oslo in neighbouring Norway, killing two people and wounding 21 others, though on Monday Norwegian police said they saw no link between the events.
In February 2015, two people were killed and five injured in Copenhagen in a series of Islamist-motivated shootings.