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Monday, October 18, 2021

Espen Andersen Brathen: What we know so far about suspected Norway bow and arrow killer

Espen Andersen Brathen has been charged with five murders after an attacker with a bow and arrows went on a rampage in a Norwegian town.

Authorities say Wednesday’s incident in Kongsberg – about 41 miles southwest of Oslo – “appears to be an act of terrorism” which had targeted “completely random” people.

Here’s what we know so far about the 37-year-old alleged killer, who prosecutors say has admitted the attack.

Norway map of bow and arrow attacks location
Kongsberg 20211013..An arrow stands in a wall after a person has moved around with a weapon that is said to have been an arrow and a bow in Kongsberg center..Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB
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Four women and one man between 50 and 70 were killed and three others wounded. Pic: Terje Bendiksby / NTB

Brathen is a Danish citizen but has lived in Kongsberg nearly all his life.

Police said the suspect had been convicted several times in the past and confirmed that he had converted to Islam

He was given a six-month restraining order against two family members last year – believed to be his parents – after refusing to leave their house and threatening to kill one of them.

Brathen left a Colt revolver on the sofa and police believed there was a risk he could harm them, reported Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

More on Kongsberg Attacks

He was convicted of burglary and cannabis possession in 2012, and regional police chief Ole Bredrup Saeverud said officers had prior contact with him over concerns he was becoming radicalised.

An acquaintance of Brathen’s told NRK the alleged killer had long suffered serious mental health problems, and authorities say he will now be assessed by forensic psychiatric experts.

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Police helicopters at scene of bow and arrow attacks

In December 2017, a concerned friend also flagged up videos that Brathen had put online, reported the Aftenposten newspaper.

Looking into the camera, he’s said to have confirmed he was a Muslim and described himself as a “messenger” with a “warning”, adding that “the time has come”.

The friend said Brathen was a “ticking time bomb” who changed in his late teens and become more of a loner who pushed people away.

He was in “so much pain that something had to happen”, the friend told the newspaper.

An investigation is now underway
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An investigation is now under way

Neighbours also told Aftenposten they had seen Brathen doing “brutal” martial arts practice in his garden and training with weapons described as “a club or baton”.

One said that police had been to Brathen’s house several times last summer, with pictures circulated in a group chat said to show officers in helmets in his garden.

Police say they believe the suspect targeted people at random in the attack – at a Co-op supermarket and other locations in Kongsberg – before he was arrested on the street.

Four women and one man, all aged between 50 and 70, were killed and three others wounded.

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Flags at half-mast & candles lit after Norway attacks

Brathen is being detained on preliminary charges and will face formal charges on Friday.

The head of Norway’s intelligence service, Hans Sverre Sjoevold, told reporters “the whole act appears to be an act of terror”.

“We do not know what the motivation of the perpetrator is,” he added. “We have to wait for the outcome of the investigation.”

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