Danish police have said three people were shot dead and three critically injured after a gunman opened fire at a busy Copenhagen shopping centre on Sunday evening.
A 22-year-old Danish man was arrested after the shooting, Copenhagen police inspector Søren Thomassen said. The suspect has been charged with manslaughter and will face questioning in front of a judge on Monday.
The suspect was known to police “but only peripherally”, Thomassen said on Sunday evening.
The victims included a man in his 40s and two “young people”, he added, without giving further details. Several others were injured, three of them critically, he said.
The suspect was apprehended at 5.48pm local time while carrying a rifle and ammunition, said investigators. Police launched a massive search operation throughout the local Zealand region early Sunday evening in search of any accomplices.
“We are going to have a large investigation and a massive operational presence in Copenhagen until we can say with certainty: he was alone,” Thomassen said.
Thomassen said it was too early to speculate on the motive for the shooting, which happened at Field’s, one of the biggest shopping malls in Scandinavia and located on the outskirts of the Danish capital.
The investigation so far did not point towards a racist motive or otherwise, but this could change, the police chief said.
The capital’s main hospital, Rigshospitalet, has called in extra staff, including surgeons and nurses, a spokesman said.
In a series of tweets earlier on Sunday, police said they had sent officers to Field’s, after receiving reports of a shooting. Police were present in large numbers, they added, advising people inside the centre to stay put and await assistance.
Images on social media that could not be immediately verified showed police running into a building and getting dressed in protective gear.
Danish broadcaster TV2 published a grainy photo of the alleged gunman, a man wearing knee-length shorts, a vest or sleeveless shirt, and holding what appeared to be a rifle in his right hand.
Other footage posted online showed people running through and out of the mall and TV2 also posted a photo of a man being put on a stretcher. Witnesses said people were crying and hiding in shops. Several fire vehicles were parked outside the mall.
Police have appealed for anyone who has seen, heard or filmed anything to contact them.
“Denmark was hit by a cruel attack on Sunday night. Several were killed. Even more wounded. Innocent families shopping or eating out. Children, adolescents and adults,” prime minister Mette Frederiksen said in a statement late on Sunday.
“Our beautiful and usually so safe capital was changed in a split second,” she said. “I want to encourage the Danes to stand together and support each other in this difficult time.”
The Danish royal family spoke of their shock at news of the attacks. “Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with the victims, their relatives and all those affected by the tragedy,” said Queen Margrethe, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary in a statement. “The situation calls for unity and care, and we would like to thank the police, the emergency services and the health authorities for their quick and effective efforts during these hours.”
Laurits Hermansen told Danish broadcaster DR that he was in a clothing store at the shopping centre with his family when he heard “three or four bangs. Really loud bangs. It sounded like the shots were being fired just next to the store.”
Other witnesses quoted by Danish media said they had seen more than 100 people rush towards the mall’s exit as the first shots were heard.
“We could see that many people suddenly ran towards the exit and then we heard a bang. Then we ran out of Field’s too,” Thea Schmidt, who was in the mall at time of the attack, told TV2.
Field’s shopping centre has 135 shops, cafes and restaurants.
The mall is just across from a subway line that connects the city centre with the international airport. A major highway also runs adjacent to Field’s.
A concert by British singer Harry Styles, which was due to take place at the Royal Arena less than a mile from the mall, was cancelled on Sunday evening despite earlier reports that it would go ahead.
On Snapchat, Styles wrote: “My team and I pray for everyone involved in the Copenhagen shopping mall shooting. I am shocked. Love H.”
Shortly after the shooting, the royal palace said a reception with Crown Prince Frederik connected to the Tour de France cycling race had been cancelled. The first three stages of the race were held in Denmark this year, the palace said in a statement.
The reception was due to be held on the royal yacht that is moored in Sønderborg, the town where the third stage ended.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report