Norwegian Police First Let Kongsberg Archer Escape, Despite Being Armed
Despite the massive manhunt that involved a sizeable police force of 22 patrols, elite units, the military and even helicopters, Muslim convert Espen Andersen Bråthen managed to perform the bloodiest killing spree on Norwegian soil since Anders Breivik's 2011 attack.
The Norwegian police were armed when they first got in touch with 37-year-old archer Espen Andersen Bråthen at the very start of his shooting spree in the town of Kongsberg on Wednesday evening. Nevertheless, the Muslim convert managed to escape several officers, and in the ensuing half an hour killed five people and wounded three others, TV2 reported
In the aftermath of the Kongsberg shooting spree, the bloodiest on Norwegian soil since Anders Breivik's attack in 2011 which left 77 dead, the Norwegian police pledged an in-depth investigation of how Bråthen managed to dodge the police for over half an hour.
According to the police, they first tried to apprehend him at a Coop store, just five minutes after receiving the first reports of an armed man running around. There, Espen Andersen Bråthen fired several arrows at the officers, who failed to respond, Police Chief Ole Bredrup Sæverud said.
“They were unable to fire shots themselves. They are were assisted by a third police officer who came with protective gear and then the perpetrator managed to sneak out,” Sæverud told TV2, without elaborating why it was impossible to fire shots at the perpetrator.
The police subsequently lost contact with Bråthen, who is a Danish citizen. In the ensuing 34 minutes, Bråthen went on to kill four women and a man as well as wound three others with a bow and arrow and another weapon, which the police have yet to describe further.
“It took so long before they manage to locate him and get in position to fire a warning shot and apprehend the perpetrator,” Ole Bredrup Sæverud explained.
During the massive manhunt that involved a sizeable police force of 22 patrols, elite units, the military and even helicopters, Bråthen managed to enter homes to kill people.
As a rule, police officers in Norway don't carry firearms. Instead, the weapons are locked inside the police cars, and the officers must have a special permit to use them. After the attack in Kongsberg, however, it has was immediately decided that the Norwegian police must be temporarily armed.
The Norwegian Security Service PST and the police are both treating the shooting spree as a terrorist attack, describing it as typical of Islamic fundamentalists.
Remarkably, people from his close circle tipped law enforcement off about Bråthen back in 2017, with a close friend describing him as a “ticking bomb”. Police chief Ole Bredrup Sæverud admitted that the Dane had prompted “radicalisation concerns”.
Bråthen was also reported as visiting a local mosque. Oussama Tlili, board chair at the Kongsberg Islamic Cultural Centre, told
NRK that the man made a “confusing impression” and that the mosque had considered reporting him to the police.
14 October 2021, 16:29 GMT
Bråthen had previous convictions. In 2012, he was sentenced to 60 days in prison for theft and possession of drugs, and in July 2020, he was issued a six-month ban on visiting his family in Kongsberg following death threats against his father.
Norwegian media described Bråthen as a troubled individual, plagued by “major mental challenges throughout his adult life”. According to
the newspaper Verdens Gang
, he has been jobless and has lived alone in an apartment in Kongsberg for a number of years, enjoying a limited circle of friends.
Espen Andersen Bråthen confessed to the killings and was said to collaborate with the police.