Copenhagen police chief Soren Thomassen told a news conference on Monday that the victims appeared to have been randomly targeted. Police have also identified the three victims as two Danish and one Russian citizen. However, police couldn't confirm the motive behind the deadly attack but said that Esbensen did ample preparations before the attack.
Mental Issues Take Lives
Esbensen, the suspect, was dealing with mental health issues and there is no indication of a terror motive, Thomassen said on Monday. He was armed with a knife and a gun, and his shooting was reportedly random and "not motivated by gender or anything else," police said.
"Our suspect is also known among psychiatric services, beyond that I do not wish to comment," Thomassen said. He also said that the suspect was "peripherally" known to police but he didn't elaborate further.
According to Thomassen, police think the suspect, who is described as "an ethnic Dane," acted alone and was not assisted by anybody else.
Police are also investigating the footage of a young man brandishing weapons that have been going around on social media since Sunday and which they believe to be authentic.
Although the police chief was unable to speculate on a motive just yet, he did note that the incident appeared to have been planned in advance and that the 22-year-old suspect was acting alone.
Two of the victims were Danish citizens, both 17 years old, while the third was a 47-year-old Russian citizen. The deadly attack also left four people wounded. A 40-year-old woman and a 19-year-old woman are both citizens of Denmark. A 50-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl from Sweden are the other two.
The chief doctor at one of the hospitals caring for some of the victims said without providing any additional information that one was still in critical condition.
Esbensen Made Preparations for Attack
According to police sources, the deadly attack started at Field's mall on Sunday around 17:35 pm local time. Field's, one of Denmark's largest multi-story shopping centers, is next to a secondary school and a sizable student housing complex, and it is frequently crowded with young people.
Many of the people present in the mall described how they ran away or hid in restrooms, stores, and storage spaces. Besides the three killed and four in critical condition, a total of 30 people were injured.
The attacker, who was described by police as having a knife, a pistol, and a rifle, was also suspected to be in possession of an unlicensed firearm. Esbensen also tried to deceive people by claiming that his weapon was fake to encourage them to approach, according to witnesses quoted by the Danish media.
"He was sufficiently psychopathic to go and hunt people, but he wasn't running," one witness told public broadcaster DR.
Moreover, he made prior preparations for the attack and had posted several videos on YouTube with firearms. The young man can be seen in several of the pictures brandishing guns, making suicide gestures, and talking about mental drugs "that don't work."
According to the AFP news agency, the suspect's alleged YouTube and Instagram accounts were shut down overnight.
According to other witnesses who spoke to Danish media, they saw over 100 people rushing out of the mall as the first bullets were fired.
However, Esbensen never tried to run away when police arrived at the scene. Police arrested the suspect close to the mall just 13 minutes after being informed of the attack.