A 37-year-old Danish man suspected of using a bow and arrow to kill five people and wound two others in a small Norwegian town is a Muslim convert who had previously been flagged as having been radicalized, police said Thursday.
The unidentified suspect launched his attack late Wednesday in several locations in the town of Kongsberg, some 40 miles southwest of Oslo, killing four women and a man between the ages of 50 and 70, Police Chief Ole B. Saeverud said.
Two people, including an off-duty cop, were wounded in the attack, according to Reuters.
“There earlier had been worries of the man having been radicalized,” Saeverud told reporters, adding that there were “complicated assessments related to the motive, and it will take time before this is clarified.”
The police chief, who did not elaborate on what was meant by being radicalized, said the last report of concern was last year.
It was too early to determine whether the attack should be investigated as an act of terrorism, Saeverud said.
Police were alerted about the incident at 6:12 p.m. Wednesday and made contact with the suspect, but he escaped and wasn’t caught until 6:47 p.m., Saeverud said.
Police believe the attacker didn’t start killing people until officers arrived on the scene.
“From what we know now, it is reasonably clear that some, probably everyone, was killed after the police were in contact with the perpetrator,” Saeverud said.
Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen, the police attorney leading the probe, said the suspect admitted, “I did this.”
“He talked calmly and clearly described what he had done. He admitted killing the five people,” she told The Associated Press.
Witness Erik Benum said he saw escaped shop workers taking cover in doorways.
“I saw them hiding in the corner. Then I went to see what was happening, and I saw the police moving in with a shield and rifles. It was a very strange sight,” he said. “People are sad and shocked.”
The suspect reportedly used other weapons besides the bow and arrow, but police are still investigating what items he had in his arsenal. Weapons experts and other technical officers are assisting with the investigation.
The suspect, who is believed to have acted alone, was held on preliminary charges, which is a step short of formal charges.
“It goes without saying that this is a very serious and extensive situation, and it natural affects Kongsberg and those who live here,” police spokesman Oeyvind Aas said earlier.
Local news outlets reported that the suspect had been convicted of burglary and drug possession. Last year, a court granted a restraining order ordering him to stay away from his parents for six months after he threatened to kill one of them.
Newly appointed Prime Minister-Jonas Gahr Stoere called the attack “horrific.”
“This is unreal. But the reality is that five people have been killed, many are injured and many are in shock ,” Gahr Stoere told NRK.
Silje Limstrand, a 22-year-old kindergarten worker, was on her way to her a supermarket Wednesday evening when police told her to get away.
“It feels weird, unreal. Kongsberg is a small town where you feel so safe … It is scary,” she told Reuters.
“It’s scary to think that I was there at the same time as the suspect,” she added.
With Post wires