A 37-year-old man was charged Thursday in connection with an arrow and bow fight in a small town in Norway that killed five people, and police said they had been in contact with him in the past over concerns he had been radicalized.
Four women and a man were killed in the attack, which took place on Wednesday evening. The attacker, who escaped an initial confrontation with police, fired a barrage of arrows at visible aliens.
We have previously been in contact with him regarding concerns about radicalization, said for suspect Ole Bredrup Saeverud, regional police chief. He said the man had converted to Islam but gave no further details or speculated on the motive.
The police chief said the last time concerns about the radicalization of men were brought to police attention was last year, but he did not say who had contacted them with those concerns. They only said that the police had followed numerous reports.
Asked if the husband may have been motivated by extreme religious ideology, he added, We do not know this, but it is natural to ask the question.
Fredrik Neumann, the court-appointed suspect lawyer, said in an interview that the man was cooperating with authorities and was undergoing a mental health assessment. He said the man, whose mother is a Danish father is Norwegian, will appear before a judge on Friday, where details of the charges against him will be made public.
The victims Wednesday ranged in age from 50 to 70, Saeverud said, and two people injured in the attack are expected to survive.
The suspect, whose name has not been made public, is a Danish citizen living in the city, officials said on Thursday. His court-appointed lawyer said he was co-operating with authorities.
It was the worst mass murder in Norway since 2011, when a far-right extremist killed 77 people, most of them teenagers in a camp.
On Thursday, police provided more details about the attack, which Prime Minister Erna Solberg called horrific.
The first call to police came at 6:12 p.m., with witnesses describing a scene of unprovoked chaos and violence at a supermarket in the town, Kongsberg, a former silver mining village.
A woman told local TV2 media that she had seen people hiding from a man standing on a street corner with arrows in a shiver on his shoulder and a bow in his hand. As he fired arrows, she said, people ran for their lives.
Just six minutes after the first phone call came to police, officers confronted the assailant. He fired arrows at the officers and fled.
At one point, the attacker crossed a bridge spanning the Numedalslagen River and passed through the city, a bucolic area that serves as an escape for people seeking refuge from the rush of Oslo, about 50 miles away.
As he was walking through the city, he attacked people ostensibly by accident, according to police. One of the injured was an off-duty police officer and a photo of him with an arrow in his back circulated widely on the internet.
Police on Thursday urged the public to stop sharing photos, saying it is reckless and disrespectful.
Police said the attacker had used a second weapon in the rage, though he gave no further details. But it was the arrows that marked the traces of destruction.
At 6:47 p.m., police arrested the suspect 34 minutes after the first reports of violence.
A police lawyer, Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen, told TV2 that the suspect had lived in the city for several years.
Murder is rare in Norway. In a country with a population of just over five million, there were 31 homicides last year, most of them involving people known.
However, the nation has not yet fully accounted for the trauma of the devastating 2011 mass killings.
Norwegian authorities have expressed concern that not enough is being done to eradicate right-wing extremism, especially among young people. In July, analysts with the country’s intelligence services warned that a decade after the 2011 attack, there are young men and boys who idolize the gunman.
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