It was meant to be a magical night and a farewell to life with coronavirus restrictions. But Sunday night in Copenhagen turned into a nightmare for 15-year-old Nuveen Kamal and her friend.
They were going to attend a concert by British pop star Harry Styles at the Royal Arena in the Danish capital, along with thousands of others. Many, just like Nuveen, had come a long way for the long-awaited event and decided to grab something to eat before the former One Direction star took the stage.
They chose to visit the nearby shopping mall, Field’s – Denmark’s second largest shopping mall – a few miles south of central Copenhagen.
As they exited a store, Nuveen and her friend heard screams coming from several directions. “At first I thought it was Harry Styles who was here. Then I turned around and saw a man with a long gun in his hand. And then we just ran,” Nuveen explains.
Suddenly, a day that was meant to be memorable for joyful reasons turned into a day that was a matter of life and death. The mall was attacked by a 22-year-old Dane. In a murderous rampage, the man, whose name has still not been released, was to kill three people: two 17-year-olds and a 47-year-old man. Seven other people were injured by bullets and four of them were seriously injured, including a 16-year-old girl. 20 other people suffered various injuries while fleeing the scene.
The incident shocked Denmark, which has largely escaped such incidents so far. The last major shooting was in 2015.
Sunday’s Harry Styles concert marked the end of a festive week for Denmark. The country was hosting the first three stages of the Tour de France race, with hundreds of thousands of Danes jubilant in the streets.
Danish firearms laws are strict and all firearms except some shotguns require a license issued by the police. The shooter did not have this permit.
Police ruled the incident was not an act of terrorism and the shooter was ordered on Monday to be held in a closed psychiatric ward. Officers said the victims were randomly targeted.
Nuveen is only too aware that she could have been among those killed or injured. She describes how she and her friend ran frantically from the sound of gunfire.
“We ran down stairs at the back of a store, as we could hear gunshots, then we reached a glass door, which is locked. We panic. We cannot go back. It was a scary moment,” Nuveen says.
Copenhagen police received the first report of the shooting at 5.35pm on Sunday evening.
Nuveen tells The Independent she doesn’t remember much after her friend managed to break the locked door and they were able to escape from the mall and into a large crowd of people waiting anxiously outside.
“I slept next to my mother last night. And I had a hard time falling asleep,” she says. “I’m still very much in shock and I don’t know how to handle it all I am very confused right now.