Shoppers hid counters in ‘pure terror’ as Copenhagen gunman opened fire in mall

Shoppers hid counters in ‘pure terror’ as Copenhagen gunman opened fire in mall
Witnesses initially believed killer ‘was a thief’ before man began ‘just shooting into the crowd’

Witnesses have described throwing themselves behind shop counters and crowding into cramped hiding spaces in fear for their lives after a gunman opened fire in a busy shopping centre in Copenhagen.

Three people were killed and threes others critically wounded in the attack at Field’s shopping centre in Denmark’s capital on Sunday evening, for which a motive is not yet known.

Shoppers were pictured fleeing from the mall, which is one of the largest of its kind in Scandinavia, while those remaining inside were told by police to stay put as vast numbers of armed police worked to secure the area.

A 22-year-old Danish man has been arrested in connection with the attack and inspector Soren Thomassen told a press conference that, while investigations are ongoing, the perpetrator is believed to have been acting alone.

Danish tabloid BT published unverified video footage it said was shot by a witness to the attack, Mahdi Al-wazni, showing a man with a large rifle walking through the mall and swinging it around his shoulders.

“He seemed very aggressive and shouted different things,” Al-wazni told BT, later telling broadcaster TV2 that the man appeared to be carrying a “hunting rifle”, adding: “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.”

An eyewitness, Rikke Levandovski, told the same broadcaster that “people first thought it was a thief”, adding: “Then I suddenly hear shots and threw myself behind the counter inside the store.”

She said the attacker was “just shooting into the crowd, not up in ceiling or into the floor”.

A woman named Emilie Jeppesen told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper: “You didn’t know what was happening. Suddenly there was just chaos everywhere.”

<p>Police officers and rescuers are seen in front of the mall</p>

Police officers and rescuers are seen in front of the mall

Others described running from the sound of gunfire and desperately searching for safety.

“My friend and I … suddenly we hear shots. I hear about ten shots and then run as fast as we can into a toilet. We squeeze into this tiny toilet where we are around 11 people,” a woman who gave her name as Isabella told DR, Denmark’s public broadcaster.

Joachim Olsen, a former Danish politician who was going to a gym inside the shopping centre when he saw large groups of people running from the mall, told CNN: “It looked like something, I’m sorry to say, you would see from a school shooting in the US, people coming out with their hands above their heads.

“You have people running out, looking for friends and calling friends and family members who were inside, some speaking to friends who were inside,” Mr Olsen said. “Old people with their arms around the necks of people carrying them out, their feet just being dragged across the floor.”

He added: “At one point we were rushed away. The police came and said ‘run, run, run, they’re still shooting in there’.”

Laurits Hermansen was in a clothing store at the shopping centre with his family when he heard “three-four bangs”, he told Danish broadcaster DR. “Really loud bangs. It sounded like the shots were being fired just next to the store,” he said.

Police have not specified exactly how many people were killed and injured in the attack.

A spokesperson at the capital’s main hospital, Rigshospitalet, told Reuters it had received a “small group of patients” for treatment, adding that extra staff, including surgeons and nurses, had been called in to help.

“It is pure terror. This is awful,” said Hans Christian Stoltz, a 53-year-old IT consultant, who was bringing his daughters to see Harry Styles perform at a concert less than a mile from the mall, a show which was cancelled with thousands of fans already inside the venue.

“You might wonder how a person can do this to another human being, but it’s beyond anything that’s possible,” Mr Stoltz said of the shooting.

Styles said he was “heartbroken along with the people of Copenhagen”.

“I’m devastated for the victims, their families, and everyone hurting,” he tweeted.

Additional reporting by agencies