A survivor of the attack on a free-speech event at a Copenhagen cafe said that without the security guards protecting the meeting, the bloodshed could have been much worse.
Helle Merete Brix, one of the organizers of the meeting Saturday titled "Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression," where one person was killed and three police officers wounded after a gunman opened fire, called the experience "surreal."
When the gunfire started, she said, the Swedish state security guards and Danish intelligence officers there "reacted very quickly."
"They were in the lobby and if they hadn't shot back, he could have shot his way through and something like Charlie Hebdo could have happened," she said, referring to the attack on the office of the satirical Paris newspaper last month in which 12c people were killed.
"Three of them wounded, so it was not without consequences," she said of the security team.
When the shooting started she said, in an interview with ABC News' Terry Moran, no one quite knew for a moment what was happening.
"I was conducting the meeting," she said. "I was talking about freedom of speech. We heard all this noise. The next thing that happened the security guys told everybody to run out as fast as you can.
"I had this surreal experience, what was going on, when the security guard started shouting I thought my god this is an attack," she said.
The guards told them all to go into a storage room, where she said they dove under a table.
"We held hands and told bad jokes," she said. "There was a lot of beer."
Like Swedish artist Lars Vilks, one of the co-hosts of the event who has faced numerous death threats after drawing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in 2007, she said she knew there was danger.
"Even though we knew there was a risk, we didn't expect anything like this to happen -- then this horror and death," she said.
She said it is too important to stand up for the value of free speech.
"We're fighting a battle, but freedom of speech is the core value of western society," she said. "Without freedom of speech, other values aren't worth much. You can discuss and disagree in a civilized matter."
Hours after the shooting at the cafe, a gunman -- believed by police to be the same man -- opened fire near a synagogue in the city, killing one man and wounding two police.
Officers later confronted the suspect in the Noerrebro district of the city, and he was killed in a shootout, police said.
"I don't feel responsible, but I feel a lot of sorrow that this happened," she said. "There's only one person to blame and that's the guy who fired the shots."