People flee the Fields shopping center during evacuation by armed police in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Sunday. The Copenhagen Police department tweeted that they are present at the Fields shopping center in Copenhagen where shots were fired. Photo by Olafur Steinar Gestsson/EPA-EFE
July 3 (UPI) -- Danish police have arrested a 22-year-old man after three people were shot dead and several others were injured inside a mall near Copenhagen on Sunday, officials said.
The Copenhagen Police Department identified the deceased victims in a statement a young man, a young woman and a man in his forties.
"The police are working to identify them and inform their relatives," it said.
Neither the number of people injured nor the circumstances that led up to the shooting were immediately known though authorities said investigators were working on the premise that the gunman, identified as a Danish national, acted alone.
"We are in the process of a massive and very extensive investigation, which will continue throughout the night and in the coming days," Chief Police Inspector Soren Thomassen said.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen described the shooting as "a cruel attack" while calling on all Danes to "stand together and support each other in this difficult time."
"We have all been brutally torn our of the bright summer we had just begun. It is incomprehensible. Heartbreaking. Pointless," she said in a statement. "Our beautiful and usually so safe capital was changed in a split second."
Authorities said officers first received reports of shots fired at around 5:37 p.m. local time inside Field's, which is Denmark's largest shopping center and is located about nine minutes from Copenhagen by subway
"Copenhagen Police quickly arrived on the site where a 22-year-old male suspect was arrested," police officials said.
Earlier in the day, the Copenhagen Police Department tweeted that "shots have been fired and several people have been hit" while warning locals to stay away from the area.
"We do not yet know for sure how many are injured or dead, but it is very serious," Copenhagen Mayor Sophie Anderson had said in a statement in the aftermath of the shooting, adding that officials were in close communication with police.
Lars Gaardhøj, the chairman of the capital region's governing council, said in a statement that area hospitals "are on standby" to receive patients after the "serious situation" at the Fields shopping center.
The Flemish Peace Institute, a think tank hosted by the Flemish Parliament in Belgium, has noted that Denmark has been ranked the second-most peaceful nation in the world and has very low violent crime rates.
"Denmark has one of the strictest -- possibly the strictest -- gun ownership laws in Europe," the Flemish Peace Institute said. "The only type of weapon that civilians may own without a license are air rifles of a caliber of 4.5 mm or less."
All other firearms require a license and self-defense is not a legitimate reason for acquiring a weapon, according to the think tank.
"The only two reasons for being granted a firearms license are for sports shooting and hunting purposes," according to the think tank. "To gain an individual license, sports shooters are required to have been active members of a sports shooting club for at least two years."
Hunters must pass an advanced hunting exam and are allowed to use semi-automatic rifles but cannot carry more than two magazine cartridges at a time.
There are currently only about 170,000 active hunting licenses in Denmark, which has a population of about 5.8 million.
Queen Margrethe in a joint statement with her son Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, Crown Princess Mary, said that while the full extent of the incident was not yet known "it is already clear that more people have lost their lives and that even more hav been injured."
"Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with the victims, their relatives and all those affected by the tragedy," they said. "The situation calls for united and care, and we would like to thank the police, the emergency services and the health authorities for their quick and effective efforts during these hours."
British pop singer Harry Styles, who was to perform at the Royal Arena on Sunday night as part of his European tour, announced the show was canceled due to the shooting.
"I'm heartbroken along with the people of Copenhagen. I adore this city. The people are so warm and full of love," he said in a statement. "I'm devastated for the victims, their families and everyone hurting. I'm sorry we couldn't be together."
The shooting comes a little more than a week after a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent killed two people and injured more than 20 others in a shooting at a LGBTQ nightclub in neighboring Norway.
Authorities arrested the suspected gunman and said they believed he was acting alone.