Denmark Shootings Were 'Expected,' Artist Who Depicted Muhammad Says

The Swedish artist believes he was the intended target of Saturday's shooting.

ByABC News
February 15, 2015, 2:46 PM

— -- Swedish artist Lars Vilks said today the shooting in Copenhagen during a free speech event he organized that left one man dead and three police officers wounded was "a tragedy, but it was expected."

Vilks, 68, was not injured in the shooting, but has been faced numerous death threats after drawing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in 2007. He said he believes he was the intended target.

"What other motive could there be?" he told The Associated Press.

In a phone interview today with the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, he described the scene when the gunman opened fire.

"I heard some shots -- they sounded weak so I didn't think they sounded as gun shots, It was very surreal," he said.

"Of course this is a tragedy but it was expected," he said. "It would have happened sooner or later. And this is not the last time either."

The gunman suspected in that shooting and second one hours later in which one person was killed and two police officers were wound was shot and killed by police early today.

Vilks' cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad drew negative attention to the artist. A group linked to al Qaeda offered a cash reward of $100,000 to anyone who killed him. They also promised $50,000 for the killing of the editor-in-chief of the newspaper that printed the drawing.

"We had a debate in Sweden about making exceptions for Islam compared to Christianity where you can actually do caricatures and everything," Vilks told ABC News in 2007. "You try to make exceptions because Muslims get insulted."

According to, an online network for artists, Vilks was born in Helsingborg Sweden in 1946. He earned his Ph.D in art history from Lund University in 1987. He worked for 5 years at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, and then became a professor in art theory at the Bergen National Academy.

In 1980, Vilks started working on a driftwood sculpture called Nimis on a nature reserve in southwest Sweden.

According to Slate, Vilks started building the sculptures in secret on the nature reserve. When the Swedish government discovered them, they said they would have to be destroyed.

Instead of destroying the sculptures, Vilks took the land and seceded from Sweden -- creating the micro-nation of Ladonia.

According to, Ladonia is one square kilometer of land, with almost 16,000 citizens in 2011. The National Anthem of the country is the "sound of throwing a stone into water," and the nation has its own timezone -- three minutes slower than neighboring Sweden.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.