The Danish man who allegedly killed five people in a bow-and-arrow attack in Norway has reportedly been identified as Muslim convert Espen Andersen Bråthen — who posted a chilling 2017 video in which he described himself as a “messenger” who comes “with a warning.”
The 37-year-old man is accused of carrying out the attack late Wednesday in several locations in the town of Kongsberg, some 40 miles southwest of Oslo, killing four women and a man between the ages of 50 and 70, Police Chief Ole B. Saeverud said.
The Norwegian intelligence service deemed the attack an “act of terror” by the radicalized suspect, who reportedly attended an Islamic center in the community two years ago, the Telegraph reported.
“Hello. I’m a messenger. I come with a warning. Is this really what you want? And for all who want to make up for themselves, so it’s time. Bear witness that I am a Muslim,” Bråthen reportedly said in English in a Facebook video that was flagged to law enforcement in 2017.
A concerned acquaintance notified police of the video, according to the Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, the Telegraph reported.
The man’s neighbors told the Norwegian outlet that they had observed Bråthen — who reportedly engaged in a “brutal fighting style” of martial arts — training with weapons in his garden.
National broadcaster NRK reported that the suspect had been convicted of burglary and bought small quantities of hash in 2012, according to the Telegraph.
Bråthen also was banned from visiting his parents after seriously threatening them, according to the outlet, which cited the Aftenposten.
Two people, including an off-duty cop, were wounded in Wednesday’s attack. They were hospitalized in intensive care, the Telegraph reported. Police responding to the incident also were shot at with arrows, officials said.
“Witnesses saw lifeless people, heard intense howls and screams and saw people running for their lives in the streets,” Saeverud told reporters Thursday.
Police were called at 6:15 p.m. and arrested the suspect about 30 minutes later. He was held on preliminary charges, which is a step short of formal charges. Police believe he acted alone.
One eyewitness said residents are still shaken by the carnage.
“I have never seen so many police, ambulances and vehicles in my life. There were just blue lights everywhere. Everyone is in shock and upset,” the witness said, according to the Telegraph.
“I mean, an untrained lone man equipped with knife, arrow and bow openly roamed in our streets for more than 30 minutes — headed to a grocery store in the beginning and attacked people there. And then made his way to a post office. Everywhere where he saw people gathering,” the person said.
Karin Elise Edvartsen, a town resident, said the worst part of the attack was “all the hate against religion and race that comes with it.”
“If we are from here or there, we are one community. My neighbors are both Muslims and Christians, and I know they would not hurt a fly,” said Edvartsen, who knew one of the victims, the outlet said.
“Sadly, people start to suspect others. It hurts me, but I refuse to let the hate win,” she added.
Prime Minister-designate Jonas Gahr Store called the attack “horrific.”
“This is unreal. But the reality is that five people have been killed, many are injured and many are in shock,” Gahr Store, who is expected to take office later Thursday, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK, the Telegraph reported.
Kongsberg Mayor Kari Anne said: “This is a gruesome incident, there is nothing else to say. Now we must try to take care of the inhabitants as best we can.”