A 42-year-old Norwegian man of Iranian descent has been arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder, and terrorist acts following a shooting in the Norwegian capital city of Oslo which resulted in two deaths and 21 injuries.
The alleged perpetrator, originally from the Kurdish region of Iran who had originally come to Norway with his family as asylum seekers, is believed to have opened fire at 1:00 a.m. on Saturday—hours before Oslo’s annual gay pride parade was set to begin—at three separate locations in the city’s bustling nightclub district, including at the London Pub, a club that’s popular with the city’s LGBT community, the Oslo-based newspaper Vårt Land reports.
Shortly after the initial reports of gunshots, the man was subsequently taken into police custody not far from the crime scene. Two weapons, one handgun and an automatic rifle, found on the suspect’s person were seized by police. Presently, there are no other suspects believed to have been involved in the deadly shooting.
Upon further investigation, police revealed that the suspect had been previously known to authorities for aggravated assault and multiple drug possession convictions. In 2019, he was also arrested and investigated for attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm, and illegal carrying of a knife in a public place—but was never formally charged, according to a report from Verdens Gang.
Olav Roennberg, a journalist for the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK who happened to witness the shooting, recounted the evening’s horrific events, saying: “I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag. He picked up a weapon and started shooting. First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered and I understood I had to run for cover.”
In light of the location of the shooting, prosecutor Christian Hatlo, while speaking to the press on Saturday morning, said it would be investigated as a potential hate crime. At the same press conference, Hatlo said that the suspect’s psychological state may have played a role in the shooting as well. According to Verdens Gang, the man had been receiving disability benefits since 2013.
“We have to go through his medical history, if he has any, but we are not familiar with that now,” Hatlo said.
Following police recommendations, organizers of the Oslo Pride festival have canceled the parade that was set to take place on Saturday. They’ve implored others who had planned to take part in the parade not to show up. Other events related to the parade have been canceled as well.
“We send heartfelt thoughts and love to the next of kin, the wounded and others affected,” the organizers of the event said. “We will soon be proud and visible again, but today we will be doing our Pride celebrations from home.”
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere referred to the shooting as a “cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people,” adding that his thoughts were “with the victims and their relatives.”
Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.