Norwegian authorities are commissioning an independent investigation into the actions of police and security agencies following a bow-and-arrow attack that killed five people and injured three in the town of Kongsberg this week.
Norway’s domestic intelligence agency, known by the acronym PST, said Saturday that it decided to seek the review after consulting the country’s national and regional police commanders. A 37-year-old Kongsberg resident who police said admitted to Wednesday night’s killings is undergoing psychiatric evaluation.
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“Given the seriousness of the matter, it is very important that learning points and any weaknesses and errors are identified quickly in order to be able to implement measures immediately,” PST said in a statement.
Norwegian media have questioned how long it took officers to apprehend suspect Espen Andersen Braathen after the regional police department received reports about a man shooting arrows at a supermarket. According to a timeline from police, the first information was logged at 6:13 p.m. and Andersen Braathen was caught 6:47 p.m.
Police officials have said the first officers on the scene observed a suspect but took cover and called for reinforcements when arrows were fired at them. The officials have acknowledged the armed suspect got away and likely killed the five victims between the ages of 50 and 70 outdoors and inside some apartments at that point.
Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl, who assumed her post on Thursday along with the rest of Norway’s new center-left government, has not commented on the police handling of the threat.
“Now it is important that the police get a review and investigate the matter thoroughly,” she told Swedish public broadcaster SVT on Saturday.
Authorities said Saturday that the people injured, one of them a police officer who was struck while off-duty inside the supermarket, all have been released from the hospital.
A senior police officer, Per Thomas Omholt, said during a news conference Friday that three weapons, including the bow and arrow, were used in the attack, but declined to identify the types or to reveal how the five victims were killed, saying investigators need to interview more witnesses and don’t want their accounts influenced by what they read in the news.
Omholt said that as of Friday, investigators were continuing to explore possible motives or reasons for the attack but their “strongest hypothesis for motive is illness.” His “health has deteriorated,” the officer said, declining to give specifics.
Norwegian broadcaster NRK reported Friday that domestic intelligence agency PST received information about Andersen Braathen in 2015 and agents interviewed him in 2017 to determine if he posed a threat. The following year, the agency contacted Norwegian health authorities about him and concluded he suffered from a serious mental illness, NRK said.
Norwegian newspaper VG reported that the agency also thought Andersen Braathen might carry out a “low-scale attack with simple means in Norway.” PST did not comment on the report.