A 42-year old gunman was arrested arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder, and terrorist acts on Saturday after he killed two people and injured 21 during an overnight shooting rampage in and around an Oslo gay bar — just hours before the city was supposed to hold its annual Pride parade.
“There is reason to think that this may be a hate crime,” Norwegian police said. “We are investigating whether… Pride was a target in itself or whether there are other motives.”
In the wake of Jonas Gahr Stoere, the Norwegian Prime Minister called a “terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people,” Oslo’s annual Pride celebration was canceled based on police advice.
“We will soon be proud and visible again, but today, we will share our Pride celebrations from home,” Inger Kristin Haugsevje, leader of Oslo Pride, and Inge Alexander Gjestvang, leader of the Norwegian Organization for Sexual and Gender Diversity, saidIn a statement
As Reuters reported, “The attack took place in the early hours of Saturday, with victims shot inside and outside the London Pub, a longstanding hub of Oslo’s LGBTQ scene, as well as in the surrounding streets and at one other bar in the center of the Norwegian capital.”
Bili Blum Jansen was at the London Pub at the moment. She sought refuge in the basement and hid there with 80 to 100 other people.
“Many called their partners and family, it felt almost as if they were saying goodbye,” he told Norway’s TV2. “Others helped calm down those who were extremely terrified.”
“I had a bit of panic and thought that if the shooter or shooters were to arrive, we’d all be dead,” he added. “There was no way out.”
Marcus Nybakken had fled the London Pub just before the gunfire erupted but returned later to assist, recounting the terrible shooting and its aftermath.
“Many people were crying and screaming, the injured were screaming, people were distressed and scared — very, very scared,” Nybakken said. “My first thought was that Pride was the target, so that’s frightening.”
Although the city’s Pride parade was canceled as a result of the attack, Reuters reported that “several thousand people began what appeared to be a spontaneous march in central Oslo, waving rainbow flags and chanting in English: ‘We’re here, we’re queer, we won’t disappear.’”
According to police, the suspect was arrested minutes after the shooting began. Two guns, one of which was a fully-automatic gun, were also retrieved from the crime scene.
National security authorities raised Norway’s terrorism threat assessment to its highest level following the attack.
Norway’s law enforcement officials, who are not usually armed, will carry guns until further notice, national police chief Benedicte Bjoernland announced.
Norway has lower crime rates that many of its high-income counterparts. This is not the first hate-motivated mass killing in the Scandinavian nation with 5.4 million people. The murders of 77 people by Anders Behring Breivik, a far-right extremist, were the most horrific.