One Dead, Two Policemen Wounded in Attack at Copenhagen Synagogue
One civilian was killed and two policemen were wounded early Sunday morning in a shooting attack outside the Great Synagogue in central Copenhagen, Denmark, according to multiple media reports.
The civilian, a Jewish community member guarding the house of worship during a bat-mitzva celebration, was shot in the head and the two policemen were shot in the arm and leg in the attack, according to the reports. Officials say it is likely that the attack was connected to an earlier deadly assault on a cafe in the city.
The gunman fled the scene on foot, and a manhunt is underway, The Times of Israel reported.
“It started with police being down at the site. A person comes up and starts to shoot,” police spokesman Allan Teddy Wadsworth-Hansen said.
Sky News cameraman Pete Milnes, who was near the scene of the attack, said: “There was a succession of about six or seven gunshots.
“Within a minute or so, armed police were on the scene, a helicopter was hovering overhead. I witnessed police apprehend an individual who was handcuffed and later released.
“There was 20 to 30 armed police officers with semi-automatic rifles shouting at locals to stay indoors and close windows.”
A photo published on Twitter purported to show a wounded policeman and another person lying injured, Sky News reported.
Danish television station TV2 said a large metro and train station nearby, Norreport, was being evacuated, Reuters reported.
In a WhatsApp post, Rabbi Yitzi Loewenthal, the Chabad representative in Copenhagen, said he was at the synagogue just minutes before the attack and that his own center is now under lock-down.
“BH we are all fine. I was at the shul 30 minutes before it happened,” Loewenthal wrote. “Chabad house (where we also live) is in full lockdown. Police with machine guns have now closed the chabad house street at both ends. Helicopters and sirens all around. Barricaded all doors.”
A former member of the Copenhagen Jewish community, now living in the US, told The Algemeiner that “the Jews in Denmark, who mainly live in Copenhagen, feel like most European Jews — it’s safe as long as you stay stealth. Don’t wear anything ‘Jewish’, don’t talk about Israel or anything Jewish in public, and you’ll be safe.”
The source, who did not wish to be named, added that “increasing Muslim immigration combined with increasing radicalization amongst a minority of this Muslim immigrant group has caused some trouble for the Jews in the past 10-20 years.”
Responding to the incident, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio offered his sympathies.
“The people of New York City offer solidarity to the Jewish community of Copenhagen, and urge Danish authorities to do everything possible to protect the Jewish community there,” De Blasio said. “Intolerance and anti-Semitism must be confronted and defeated, and security efforts must be visible and extensive. These brutal, hate-driven attempts to intimidate must not and will not be allowed to succeed.”
Officials said the earlier attack, which saw one man killed after some 40 shots were fired into the Krudttoenden Cafe, was likely a terror attack.
The Cafe was hosting a debate on freedom of speech which was attended by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has been threatened with death for his cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
Following the first attack, Denmark’s Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, said, “We feel certain now that it’s a religiously motivated attack, and thereby it is a terrorist attack. We take this situation extremely seriously. We are in a high alarm all over the country, and our main priority at this stage is to catch the perpetrators and make sure that we find them as soon as possible.”
Last month, after the terror attack at the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris left 4 Jews dead, Denmark’s Jewish community asked for a police presence outside the Copenhagen synagogue during services and when students arrive and leave the city’s Jewish school, the Associated Press reported.
Community chairman Dan Rosenberg Asmussen made the request to Justice Minister Mette Frederiksen who stopped short of making any promises to the country’s 7,000-strong Jewish community, according to the report. She said Denmark’s security agency would reconsider security at Jewish institutions.
At the time Frederiksen said the attacks in Paris made “us painfully aware of the importance that our Jewish fellow citizens can feel safe.”