A man suspected of going on a shooting rampage that killed two people and left 20 injured during Oslo’s Pride festival has been charged with terrorism.
A gunman opened fire at three locations in the centre of the Norwegian capital in the early hours of Saturday, including outside the London Pub, a longstanding hub of the LGBT+ scene in the capital.
Authorities are still unsure of the motive but a spokesman said “there are reasons to believe it is a hate crime”. Organisers of Oslo Pride have cancelled a parade due to take place this weekend as the highlight of a weeklong festival.
Police lawyer Christian Hatlo said the 42-year-old suspect was being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, based on the number of people targeted at multiple locations.
“Our overall assessment is that there are grounds to believe that he wanted to cause grave fear in the population,” Mr Hatlo said. “We need to go through his medical history, if he has any. It’s not something that we’re aware of now.”
The incident happened around 1am, sending panicked revellers fleeing into the streets or trying to hide from the gunman.
Olav Roenneberg, a journalist from Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, witnessed the shooting.
“I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag,” he said. “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.”
Another witness, Marcus Nybakken, 46, said he was alerted to the incident by a commotion in the area.
“When I walked into Cesar’s bar there were a lot of people starting to run and there was a lot of screaming,” Nybakken told Norwegian broadcaster TV2.
“I thought it was a fight out there, so I pulled out. But then I heard that it was a shooting and that there was someone shooting with a submachine gun.”
Prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a Facebook post that “the shooting outside London Pub in Oslo tonight was a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people”.
He said that while the motive was unclear, the shooting had caused fear and grief in the LGBT+ community. “We all stand by you,” Mr Støre wrote.
At the London Pub, terrified patrons hid in the basement and called loved ones as people inside and outside the pub were shot.
Bili Blum-Jansen, who was in the pub at the time, said he fled to the basement to escape the hail of bullets and hid there along with 80 to 100 other people.
“Many called their partners and family, it felt almost as if they were saying goodbye. Others helped calm down those who were extremely terrified,” he told TV2.
“I had a bit of panic and thought that if the shooter or shooters were to arrive, we’d all be dead. There was no way out.”
Inge Alexander Gjestvang, leader of FRI, the Norwegian organisation for sexual and gender diversity, said the shooting has shaken the Nordic country’s gay community.
“It’s tough for the queer movement to experience this,” he was quoted by TV2 as saying. “We encourage everyone to stand together, take care of each other. We’ll be back later, proud, visible but right now it’s not the time for that.”
Hatlo said police seized two weapons after the attack: a handgun and an automatic weapon, both of which he described as “not modern” without giving details.