Authorities said that the attack by a man on a small Norwegian town who shot five people with a bow and arrow in an apparent terrorist act was a shocking attack in a country like Scandinavia where violent crime is uncommon.
Police arrested the attacker on Wednesday night as Espen Andersen braathen, a 37 year-old Danish citizen. He used a bow and arrow, and possibly other weapons, to randomly target people in a Kongsberg supermarket and other locations. This is a small town of around 26,000.
Witnesses claimed that their peaceful neighborhood of wooden houses, birch trees and homes was transformed into a scene full of terror and chaos.
Kurt Einar Voldseth said that the screaming was so loud and horrible, there was no doubt that something was very serious. He had just returned from an errand and heard the commotion. It was a “death scream” that I can only describe and it burned in my brain.
Police said that four women and one man aged 50-70 were killed and three others were injured.
Andersen Braathen was arrested on preliminary charges. He will be facing a custody hearing on Friday. According to police, he was acting alone.
Hans Sverre Sjoevold (head of Norway’s domestic intelligence agency, the PST) stated that “the whole act appears as an act of terror.”
Sjoevold stated in English that “we don’t know the motive of the perpetrator”. “We must wait for the results of the investigation.”
Although he said that the suspect was known to PST, he declined further details. According to the agency, the terror threat level for Norway remains at “moderate.”
Ole B. Saeverud, Regional Police Chief, described the man to be a Muslim convert. He also said that there were “earlier concerns of the man being radicalized” but did not explain why or what authorities had done in response.
Police were alerted about a man shooting arrows at 6:15 p.m., and arrested him 30 minutes later. Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen was the regional prosecutor. She said that the man “clearly explained what he did” after his arrest. He confessed to killing five people.
She stated that the bow and arrows were only part of the attacker’s arsenal. The police have not revealed the other weapons used.
Norwegian media reported that the suspect had been convicted of drug possession and burglary. A court issued a restraining orders last year to him so he could stay away for six months from his parents after threatening to kill one.
Svane Mathiassen stated to Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the suspect would be examined by forensic psychiatric specialists, something “not uncommon in such serious cases.”
Low-crime Norway is a safe country for mass killings. The attack instantly drew comparisons to the country’s worst wartime massacre a decade ago when a right-wing extremist killed 77 people using a bomb, rifle, and pistol.
Norwegian King Harald V stated Thursday that people have “experienced that the safe environment they live in suddenly became a dangerous one.” It shakes us all when terrible things happen to us in the middle or even between our daily lives on the street.
Jonas Gahr Stoere, the new Prime Minister, called the attack “horrific.”
This is unbelievable. However, five people were killed and many others are hurt. Many are still in shock,” Gahr Steere stated to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
The killings were witnessed by dozens. Erik Benum, who lives along the same street as the supermarket attacked, said to the AP that he saw shop workers hiding in doors.
“I saw them hiding at the corner. I then went to investigate and saw police with rifles and shields coming in. Benum stated that it was an unusual sight.
With reinforcements from other cities and police, they flooded Kongsberg, blocking several roads. The scene was illuminated by the blue lights from emergency vehicles and spotlights from helicopters.
He said that Thursday morning was unusually quiet in the entire town.
Benum stated, “People are saddened and shocked.”
For those who needed comfort, the main church of Kongsberg was available.