Suspected Copenhagen gunman identified as 22-year-old born in Denmark

Suspected Copenhagen gunman identified as 22-year-old born in Denmark
4 min read
15 February, 2015
Three dead, including gunman, in Copenhagen shootings. One was killed at a synagogue in Copenhagen, another at a debate on free speech and Islam.
Paris solidarity march: 'No happiness without freedom, no freedom without courage' (AFP)
The man suspected of killing two people in shootings in Copenhagen was on Sunday identified in several Danish media outlets as Omar El-Hussein.


Ekstra-Bladet, a Danish tabloid, reported that the 22-year-old was released from jail only two weeks ago after serving a term for aggravated assault.

 

Danish police had earlier said the man was born in Denmark, and was known to police due to his involvement in gangs, police said in a statement.

 

"He is a young man aged 22, born in Denmark, and he is known by police for several crimes," the statement said.

 

He had a history of assault and of violation of Danish regulations on the possession of weapons, according to the statement, which did not give further details.

 

The statement added that the investigation was focusing on the man's movements before, during and after the shootings.

 

It said investigators were also trying to ascertain if the suspect had received assistance from others.

 

Police carried out extensive operations in the Copenhagen area Sunday, raiding an Internet cafe and taking away two people, possibly under arrest.

 

Police are currently working under the assumption that the man was acting alone when he carried out the twin shootings.

Three shootings

Police shot dead the man early on Sunday. According to the police, he had opened fire on officers hours after two people were killed and five wounded in twin shootings in the Danish capital.

 

"The police are now investigating if the person could be behind the shootings at Krudttønden and the synagogue in Krystalgade," police said in a statement.

 

The exchange of fire took place in the multicultural inner-city neighbourhood of Nørrebro where police had been keeping an address under observation earlier in the day.

 

"At one point a person who could be interesting in relation to the investigation arrived at the site," police said.

 

After police called out to him "he opened fire against the police and was thereafter shot," the statement added.

 

No police officers were injured in the exchange of fire.

Free speech debate

A 55-year-old man had been killed earlier Saturday when a gunman sprayed bullets at Copenhagen's Krudttønden cultural centre as it hosted a seminar in which Lars Vilks – the Swedish artist whose controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoon sparked worldwide protests in 2007 – was among the speakers.

 

Hours later, a man was shot in the head and killed near Copenhagen's main synagogue in the city centre.

 

A huge manhunt operation had been underway in Denmark overnight after the attacker fled following both shootings.

 

Two policemen were wounded in the shooting at the synagogue, and three more officers hurt in the cultural centre attack.

 

Police said they did not have enough information to confirm whether the two shootings, which come just weeks after a series of attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead, were linked.

 

Danish police said the gunman used an automatic weapon to shoot through the windows of the Krudttønden cultural centre during a panel discussion on freedom of expression following the Paris attacks. Of the three police officers wounded, two belonged to the Danish security service PET, which said the circumstances surrounding the shooting "indicate that we are talking about a terror attack."

 

The gunman then fled in a carjacked Volkswagen Polo that was found later a few kilometres away, police said.

Controversial artist

Vilks, a Swedish artist who has faced numerous death threats for caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad, was one of the main speakers at the event, titled "Art, blasphemy and freedom of expression." He was whisked away by his bodyguards unharmed as the shooting began.

 

Vilks, 68, later told The Associated Press he believed he was the intended target of the shooting.

"What other motive could there be? It's possible it was inspired by Charlie Hebdo," he said, referring to the 7 January attack by extremists on a French satirical weekly.

Vilks has faced several attempted attacks and death threats after he depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog in 2007. A Pennsylvania woman last year got a 10-year prison term for a plot to kill Vilks. In 2010, two brothers tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden and were imprisoned for attempted arson.