Three people were killed and at least three others were critically hurt in a shooting in Copenhagen on Sunday that sent terrified shoppers fleeing for safety in Denmark’s largest shopping center, the authorities said.
Soren Thomassen, an inspector with the Copenhagen police, said early on Monday local time that the dead included a man in his 40s and two young people. He did not say how many people in total were injured, but said that three were in critical condition.
He said the police had taken a 22-year-old Dane into custody in connection with the shooting, which occurred around 6 p.m. local time. The authorities did not release any information about a possible motive, but believed that the man was acting alone.
“We are convinced that the man we arrested is the perpetrator,” Mr. Thomassen said. “He had in his possession a rifle, and he had in his possession ammunition for that rifle.”
Gun violence in Denmark is relatively rare, at least compared with the United States, where shootings in public places have become commonplace. According to a repository of gun violence data kept by the University of Sydney, Denmark has a little over one gun death per 100,000 people annually, while the United States has a little over 12.
The shooting on Sunday happened at Field’s shopping center, which is described as nine minutes from Copenhagen’s center via the metro and hosts more than 140 shops that include Danish and international fashion brands.
A mall employee told a local news outlet that “masses of people” had run to seek shelter in the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant at Field’s. Staff members barricaded the doors and remained there for about 45 minutes, the employee said.
A witness, Mahdi Al-Wazni, told TV 2 News that he had seen the gunman.
“He seemed violent and angry, and he was shouting as he ran,” he said, adding that he saw the gunman smashing windows at the mall.
Other witnesses described scenes of panic and of employees’ helping shoppers flee through the back rooms of stores. One woman told TV 2 that she and her family had stopped at a store to get snacks for her 1-year-old daughter when the family heard a loud bang.
Rikke Olsen said that her husband at first thought the noise was someone setting off fireworks or throwing firecrackers. The noise was followed by a dash of mall patrons running toward the family.
Ms. Olsen turned around and saw a man holding what appeared to be a rifle, which he was loading, she said.
“I turn around and I run just as fast as I can holding my 3-year-old boy’s hand,” she said. “I just pull him with me, and then I lose my grip, and people are stepping on him, because they’re running.”
She picked him up and continued to run.
In a statement late Sunday, Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, urged Danes to be united in the aftermath of the “cruel attack.”
“Several people were killed,” she said. “Even more were injured. Innocent families out shopping or eating. Children, young people and adults.”
“We have all been brutally torn out of the bright summer we had just begun,” she continued. “It is incomprehensible. Heartbreaking. Meaningless. Our beautiful and usually so safe capital was changed in a split second.”
At the time of the shooting, fans of Harry Styles had gathered nearby in the city’s Royal Arena waiting for the former One Direction singer to perform. At about 8 p.m. the crowd of 17,000 were told the concert would be postponed, but 90 minutes later were told the show had been canceled over “safety concerns,” the BBC reported.
“I’m heartbroken along with the people of Copenhagen,” Mr. Styles said on Twitter. “I adore this city. The people are so warm and full of love. I’m devastated for the victims, their families, and everyone hurting. I’m sorry we couldn’t be together. Please look after each other.”
Christine Chung contributed reporting.