Three people have been killed and three others are in a critical condition after a gunman with a rifle opened fire on crowds at a shopping centre in Copenhagen.
Shoppers were seen fleeing from the Field’s mall on Sunday evening and others hid in shops after gunshots were heard at around 5.30pm local time (4.30 BST.)
A man in his 40s and “two young people” were killed and several others were injured, police inspector Soren Thomassen told a news conference.
A 22-year-old Danish man has been arrested in connection with the shooting. There was no indication that anyone else was involved but detectives are investigating, Mr Thomassen said.
While police could not rule out the possibility that it was an “act of terrorism”, it was too early to speculate on the gunman’s motive, he told reporters earlier on Sunday evening.
Police are convinced that the man they arrested was the gunman, and he was in possession of a rifle and ammunition when he was detained, the police chief said at the later press conference.
The suspect has been charged with manslaughter – which in Danish law describes the act of intentionally killing someone – and will go before a judge on Monday, Mr Thomassen said.
The shooting prompted a huge police response, with a vast number of armed officers patrolling and searching the surrounding area. Copenhagen police advised people inside the mall to stay put and await police assistance after reports of a gunman emerged.
Pictures later taken by media at the scene showed a man being led to a police van by armed officers.
“We do not have information that others are involved. This is what we know now,” Mr Thomassen told the press conference.
Police did not initially give a specific number of casualties, and a spokesperson at the capital’s main hospital, Rigshospitalet, told Reuters it had received a “small group of patients” for treatment. It had called in extra staff, including surgeons and nurses, the spokesperson added.
Danish broadcaster TV2 posted a photo of a man being put on a stretcher, and published a grainy photo of the alleged gunman – a man wearing knee-length shorts and a tank top and holding what appeared to be a rifle in his right hand.
In a late-night statement, prime minister Mette Frederiksen said: “We have all been brutally ripped from the bright summer that had just begun. It is incomprehensible. Heartbreaking. Meaningless. Our beautiful and usually so safe capital was changed in a split second.”
The shopping centre – one of the largest of its kind in Scandinavia – is situated in Orestad, an area in the south of Denmark’s capital city, on the island of Amager.
Laurits Hermansen was in a clothing store at the shopping centre with his family when he heard “three-four bangs”, he told Danish broadcaster DR. “Really loud bangs. It sounded like the shots were being fired just next to the store,” he said.
One witness, Mahdi Al-wazni, told the Danish tabloid BT that the gunman “seemed very aggressive and shouted different things”. Another eyewitness, Rikke Levandovski, told TV2: “People first thought it was a thief … Then I suddenly hear shots and threw myself behind the counter inside the store.”
“He is just shooting into the crowd, not up in ceiling or into the floor,” she added.
A witness who gave her name as Isabella told public broadcaster DR: “My friend and I … suddenly we hear shots. I hear about ten shots and then run as fast as we can into a toilet. We squeeze into this tiny toilet where we are around 11 people.”
In an update at 7.48pm local time, Copenhagen police said: “We are still massively present in Fields and working to secure the entire building. If you are still in Fields, stay where you are and wait for the police.”
The force encouraged Copenhagen residents and those who have been to the shopping centre on Sunday to contact their relatives to let them know they are safe.
The shopping centre sits close to the airport, and less than a mile from a concert venue at which Harry Styles had been due to perform at 8pm.
The former One Direction star’s show had reportedly been given permission to go ahead after close dialogue with the police, but it was delayed and ultimately cancelled. Footage showed an announcer on stage informing fans that the concert would not go ahead and police would escort them to the metro for them to leave the area.
Styles wrote on Snapchat: “My team and I pray for everyone involved in the Copenhagen shopping mall shooting. I am shocked. Love H.”
Hans Christian Stoltz, a 53-year-old IT consultant who was bringing his daughters to the Styles show, described the shooting as “pure terror”.
“This is awful,” he said. “You might wonder how a person can do this to another human being, but it’s beyond anything that’s possible.”
An event in southern Denmark to commemorate the end of the first three stages of the Tour de France cycling race, hosted by the Danish Crown Prince and with the prime minister in attendance, was also cancelled, the royal palace said on its website.
In a joint statement, Queen Margrethe, her son Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, Crown Princess Mary, said: “We do not yet know the full extent of the tragedy, but it is already clear that more people have lost their lives and that even more have been injured … The situation calls for unity and care.”
The shooting came a week after a mass shooting in neighboring Norway, where police said a man opened fire during a LGBT+ festival, killing two people and wounding more than 20.
The terrorist threat against Denmark is currently assessed to be “serious”, with the biggest threat coming from “militant Islamism”, according to the latest report from the Danish Security and Intelligence Service.
The threat to Denmark from right-wing extremists is considered at a “general” level, which means there is capability and/or intent and possibly planning.
Denmark last saw a militant attack in 2015, during which a lone gunman shot and killed a man outside a culture centre hosting a debate on freedom of speech, and later killed a person outside a synagogue in central Copenhagen. That gunman was killed in a shoot-out with police.
Additional reporting by agencies