Man held after shootings at Blå

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A 24-year-old man with a record of earlier convictions was under arrest on Monday, charged with shooting at doormen outside the Oslo market and entertainment spot Blå late Saturday night. The man has reportedly confessed to having fired shots after being banned from entering Blå, which turns into a popular bar and music locale at night.

The entertainment spot Blå is as known for its Sunday market as it is for its music and nightlife. Its idyllic location was shaken by shootings over the weekend. PHOTO: Helge Høifødt

“He fired shots that were angled so that they weren’t intended to kill,” the man’s defense attorney, Tor Even Gjendem, told news bureau NTB. The shootings nonetheless shocked witnesses, some of whom feared they were under terrorist attack.

An employee and three customers were wounded in the shootings. None were seriously injured but the incident set off a major police response, with newspaper Aftenposten reporting how “downtown Oslo was blinking with blue lights” just a few minutes after the shootings. Aftenposten reported that several patrol cars were already in the area because of reports of a “threatening situation” at Blå before the shots were fired.

Police armed with automatic weapons cordoned off all streets around Blå, which is located in historic, now grafitti-covered brick industrial buildings along the Aker River (Akerselva) that runs through Oslo. The entire area has been converted into a popular urban destination featuring  shops, cafés, restaurants, bars, walking and cycling trails and an outdoor-indoor Sunday market.

The shootings at 2:16am on Sunday sent people running from the location, some of whom were initially suspected of being involved. Christine Sylju, operations leader for the Oslo Police District, told NTB on Sunday, however, that there were no others suspects in the case and the 24-year-old acted alone.

He was arrested just 10 minutes after the shootings, when police traced him to a taxi on a nearby street. He was dragged out of the taxi and found to still be in possession of the firearm believed used in the shootings. The young man has a record of earlier convictions for exaggerated violence, robbery and narcotics possession. Now he’s charged with attempted murder.

‘Extremely serious’
Managers at Blå, which earlier has been the site of a series of violent incidents that have put its liquor license at risk, issued a statement on Sunday, claiming they were extremely upset about the shootings and sorry that not only were people wounded but that “several of our guests were witnesses to such a dramatic incident. Our thoughts and sympathy go to those who were involved.”

Blå’s managers called the incident “extremely serious,” and stated that they had decided to cancel events and close the locale while they cooperated with the police investigation.

“We are proud of the way our security guards, employees and guests handled this situation, and want to thank the police and medical personnel who arrived quickly on the scene,” the mangers at Blå, which means “blue,” wrote in their statement. “The entertainment scene in Oslo shall be safe. Folks must be allowed to dance freely, be themselves and fall in love with both people and music. That’s what those of us at Blå will always work for.

“In a few days we’ll open again and then, as always, everyone will be heartily welcome.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund