Suspect in Copenhagen Shootings Killed by Police

Danish police kill the man suspected in shootings at a free speech meeting and a synagogue.

Police in Copenhagen, Denmark, February 15
Police in Copenhagen, Denmark, February 15 (Benno Hansen)

Danish police on Sunday shot and killed the man suspected in two shootings in Copenhagen a day earlier that Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt had called a “cynical act of terror.”

The suspect was fatally shot after opening fire on police near a train station in the Danish capital’s Nørrebro district, authorities said.

On Saturday, one person was killed and three police officers were wounded at a free-speech meeting that was attended by the Swedish artist Lars Vilks.

Vilks, who was unharmed, stirred controversy in 2007 when he published drawings that depicted the Muslim Prophet Muhammad as a dog. He has received numerous death threats and lived under constant protection since 2010.

France’s ambassador to Denmark attended the event and likened the assault to last month’s attack by Islamists on the Paris office of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, a magazine known for lampooning Islam. Like Vilks, it had previously been threatened by religious extremists.

Police said they believed the gunman later shot a volunteer at a Copenhagen synagogue and injured two more police officers.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo similarly coincided with a shooting at a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

Thorning-Schmidt offered her condolences outside the Jewish prayer house, saying, “Our thoughts go to the whole of the Jewish community today. They belong in Denmark, they are strong part of our community. And we will do everything we can to protect the Jewish community in our country.”

Jews are a tiny minority in Denmark, numbering in the mere thousands. Muslims comprise around 3 percent of the population. Integration problems, including an increase in antisemitic incidents associated with the growing Muslim population, have given rise to the nationalist Danish People’s Party which won 12 percent of the votes in the last election.

In 2005, the publication of a series of Muhammad cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten inspired riots around the Islamic world.