UPDATED: A 17-year-old girl working at a Coop Obs grocery store in Kristiansand was fatally stabbed while on duty Wednesday evening by a 15-year-old runaway from a juvenile detention facility. A second person, described by police as a 23-year-old woman, was also stabbed in the incident that set off chaos at the regional shopping center.
Police confirmed the 17-year-old’s death Thursday morning, while the condition of the 23-year-old was described as critical at a press conference later in the day. Both were initially rushed to hospital in Kristiansand, with the 23-year-old later flown to Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo for a new operation.
The 17-year-old victime was identified as Marie Skuland. Police believe she was a random victim of the assailant who is now undergoing psychiatric evaluation. Tne 23-year-old woman who was wounded was a customer at the grocery store.
‘We heard screaming…’
Tore Klovning, chief executive of Coop Sørvest, confirmed that the teenager had a summer job at the Coop Obs store. “It’s with deep sorrow that we’ve received the report that one of our employees at Coop Obs died as a result of the injuries she sustained during the tragic event yesterday,” Klovning said. “We have now established a crisis team with the police and municipality to take care of our colleagues.”
The shocking attack took place inside the Coop Obs store around 5:30pm. The 15-year-old girl who had run away from a local child welfare institution reportedly had stormed into the shopping center and stole a knife from its sushi bar.
“We heard screaming and I saw this girl standing and threatening a security guard with a knife, and there were calls for help from any health care personnel who might be there,” Eskil Mehren, an off-duty journalist for NRK who happened to be at the shopping center, told NRK. He described the scene as “chaotic” and that security personnel shouted that people should leave the center.
“Folks were running out of all exits,” Mehren said. “I had two children with me, so we left, too. Once outside no one knew what was going on. Then we saw police come out with the girl and they had control over the situation.”
Before that she had stabbed the 17-year-old and the older woman inside the Coop Obs store. Police said on Thursday that there was no known relation between the 15-year-old assailant and her two victims, nor could they explain any motivation for the attack. The attacker was described as a Norwegian citizen who was “known both to the police and to health care authorities.” Attempts to question her have been unsuccessful and she has since been sent to a psychiatric institution for children and youth in Arendal while awaiting her custody hearing.
Stian Pauschert, operations leader for the local police, told NRK that “we got a lot of help from witnesses” at the scene “who could point out where she had run. She was generating a lot of hysteria, shrieking and such, so we found her quickly.” Police were calling on Thursday for witnesses to take contact with police again, to aid in the follow-up investigation.
The 15-year-old assailant, who has a criminal record, was charged with murder and attempted murder. Police, ambulances and an air ambulance were all dispatched to the center, which was closed while police carried out their investigation of the crime scene. The shopping center reopened Thursday with a moment of silence for all workers. The Coop OBS store’s opening was delayed.