Sunday night’s deadly shooting in Copenhagen has sent shock waves across the city and the country of Denmark.
But among the grief and the chaos, the police response has won praise from those involved, both at the Fields shopping centre where it took place and among Harry Styles fans gathering for a concert nearby that was cancelled at short notice.
One fan said she was impressed with the precautions police and organisers took, and how considerate they were to young concertgoers – contacting parents and providing a police escort to a safe train station.
Fans may not have been directly threatened by the Copenhagen attack, but it was less than a mile away and many felt understandably anxious as news of the unfolding attack filtered through on mobile phones.
One described how the severity of the situation gradually became clear.
Jessica Lawrence, a journalist, said she first heard about the incident on the way to the concert. The gig was first delayed after discussions between organisers and police and then finally cancelled as fans inside the arena debated whether it was safer to stay in their seats or go.
“It was only when I started getting messages from my friends and family to say – are you ok, are you safe, at that a bit of panic and anxiety set in,” she told the BBC.
Another fan, Jan Muller, said that once the decision had been made to cancel the concert, the evacuation of the site went smoothly.
“They acted really quickly, organising transport for everyone,” she told the BBC. “They had a police escort from the venue to a nearby train station and then got everyone out of the epicentre to another train station which was a little bit far out but obviously strategic.”
“In the meantime they contacted everyone’s parents, which I thought was really considerate, knowing that his audience is mostly under-18-year-old girls, so parents were waiting for them at the next train station.”
Another fan, 13-year-old Isabella Hjertholm from Odense, Denmark, said she was thankful to be alive, and that the decision to cancel the concert was correct.
“It was the absolute right decision to make. Right now I’m hoping for a new date for Harry Styles concert,” she said.
She told the BBC she was at the mall at the time of the shooting.
“I didn’t really know where to exit since I don’t know the mall that well, so I just followed a big group going to some type of rooftop, and luckily we found an emergency exit,” she said.
She ran away as far as she could before meeting her mother and grandfather, who had also been at the mall, at a petrol station, where they took a taxi home.
“When I got back home to my grandma and grandpa I began having a panic attack… I was really scared,” she said.
Meanwhile Styles himself consoled fans, tweeting that he was “heartbroken along with the people of Copenhagen” and “devastated for the victims”.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t be together. Please look after each other,” he ended.
Maximillian von Renteln – who was “just outside” the shopping mall when the attack happened – also praised police for acting promptly, even as he told of the shock and confusion people felt as they boarded a bus to escape.
He said that armed police boarded the bus, but left quickly after searching a man with a backpack.
“I’m happy with the police and how quickly they responded… especially when you compare it to a situation like in Texas recently,” he told the BBC, alluding to the shooting at a school in Uvalde last month which left 19 children and two teachers dead, and local police under investigation for their response.
•PHOTO: Harry Styles