Police have tied a dramatic and fatal shooting on a fashionable street in Oslo Wednesday morning to a financial and legal conflict between the assailant and the woman he’s charged with killing. He owed her more than NOK 12 million (USD 1.5 million).
“There’s nothing that indicates this (murder) involved a random victim,” Grete Lien Metlid, in charge of investigations for the Oslo Police District, said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “There is no family relation,” she said, but added that the murder may be tied to business dealings between the two that went bad.
The shooting on an otherwise quiet street in Oslo’s posh Frogner district shocked neighbours and topped newscasts all day long. The defendant, described as a man in his 30s, was quickly arrested after fleeing the scene in a car at high speed. He was pulled over by police on the E18 highway near Høvik. The victim, a woman in her 50s who lived in the neighbourhood, was found lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood. Police and an ambulance arrived in just a few minutes but she was declared dead at the scene.
The woman’s identity was initially being withheld pending notification of next of kin. Criminal defendants in Norway are generally not publicly identified until a court verdict is reached.
Costly real estate mistakes
Norwegian media were reporting, however, that the woman had hired the man around five years ago to oversee two real estate projects: construction of a new residence and renovation of a condominium in Frogner. Newspaper VG reported that he was responsible for negotiating and following up agreements with both suppliers and construction workers, and he set up a separate company in connection with the work.
When the project was completed, it emerged that it was too large, had been built too close to a neighbouring property and violated required permits. That led to much higher costs for the woman who’d hired him, and is now dead, because she then had to hire other firms to carry out required modifications and sell one of the residential units at a large loss.
She sued in 2018 and won in the Oslo County Court, which ordered the man to pay the woman NOK 11.8 million and cover both court costs and her legal fees, which amounted to another NOK 900,000. Her lawyer told state broadcaster NRK on Wednesday afternoon that it amounted to a compensation claim against the man, and he appealed. A new court date had been set for early next year.
Metlid of the Oslo Police District confirmed that “we have to examine this conflict and speak with the defendant” as they investigate a motive for the murder. Metlid said police were hoping they could begin questioning the defendant Wednesday afternoon, pending appointment of a defense attorney for him.