Suspected Gunman in Copenhagen Shootings Had Criminal Past
The two earlier shootings left two dead and five police officers wounded.
— -- The suspected gunman in two shootings in Copenhagen that left two dead and five police officers wounded had a criminal past and was involved in gangs, Danish police said today.
Danish police shot and killed the 22-year-old man early today in a shootout with police in the Noerrebro district of Copenhagen, Danish investigator Joergen Skov told The Associated Press.
He was believed to be responsible for shootings at a free speech event and a synagogue in Copenhagen that officials said were likely inspired by last month's terror attacks in Paris.
According to Copenhagen police, at about 5 a.m., the suspect was returning to an address that was under police surveillance. When officers tried to make contact with the suspect, he shot at them. The officers returned fire, killing him.
Police said they had found an automatic weapon that may have been the one used in the attack at the free speech event, according to the AP.
"Nothing at this point suggests there were other perpetrators" in the Saturday shootings, Skov said. Police officials said at a news conference Sunday that they knew who the suspect was but have not yet released his identity, only saying he was from Copenhagen.
The first shooting happened about 4 p.m. Saturday at an event titled "Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression," organized by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has faced several threats after caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad.
Vilks told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that he "heard some shots. They sounded weak so I didn't think they sounded as gun shots. It was very surreal."
"I'm not sure how many shots but I'd say about 20 or 30 shots," Dennis Myhoff-Brink, who witnessed the attack, told BBC News. "People panicked of course and ran to the doors. Other people were hiding behind tables they had turned over."
The 55-year-old victim in that shooting has been identified as filmmaker Finn Noergaard, a man who produced and directed documentaries for Danish television, according to the AP.
Vilks, 68, who was not injured in the shooting, said he believes he was the intended target.
"What other motive could there be? It's possible it was inspired by Charlie Hebdo," he told the AP.
"This is not unexpected ... not going to be the last time either," Vilks told Swedish newspaper "Aftonbladet." "It could have been a massacre, what if the suspect would have gotten inside the venue... Of course this is a tragedy but it was expected. It would have happened sooner or later."
"Denmark has been hit by terror," Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said, according to the AP. "We do not know the motive for the alleged perpetrator's actions, but we know that there are forces that want to hurt Denmark. They want to rebuke our freedom of speech."
The shooting happened a month after gunmen opened fire on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris, killing 12 people. The magazine had published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, angering many Muslims.
In the days that followed, a police officer was killed and four others slain at a kosher grocery store inside the French capital.
Hours after the shooting at the cafe, police said Dan Uzan, a 37-year-old member of Copenhagen's Jewish community, was killed and two police officers were wounded in a shooting outside a synagogue.
Uzan was standing near the entrance when he was shot, acting as a security guard for a Bat Mitzvah party that was taking place inside, according to Copenhagen's main synagogue.
"It is a very sad morning where we all think of the victims and their relatives," Thornin-Schmidt said. "Two innocent people have lost their lives because of a cynical terror action against Denmark."
House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told ABC News that it's "too early to tell" if the shootings in Copenhagen were tied to ISIS or al Qaeda.
"We still don't know. Obviously they [the intelligence community] are working with Danish authorities to try to get to the bottom of -- was there an affiliation with al Qaeda or ISIS? Was this self-radicalization? Was this a copycat of what happened in Paris?" Schiff said. "It's still too early to tell."
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