Norway Shocked By Mass Shooting at Gay Bar Before Pride March

Suspect Zaniar Matapour is accused of killing two people and injuring 21 others in a gun rampage in central Oslo.
norway pride shooting
Flags and flowers left at the scene of Saturday's shooting in Oslo. Photo: Rodrigo Freitas/Getty Images

The suspect in a mass shooting at a gay bar and other locations in central Oslo is refusing to speak to police, as members of the LGBTQ community prepare to gather for a show of solidarity on Monday to honour the victims.

Two people were killed and 21 injured during the rampage in the Norwegian capital in the early hours of Saturday, the day the city’s annual Pride march was due to be held.

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The gunman opened fire at three locations, including the London Pub, a hub of Oslo's LGBTQ scene, in what police have labelled an act of Islamist terror. The attacker was eventually stopped by members of the public who chased him down the street and tackled him, holding him until police arrived. One eyewitness told Norway's public broadcaster NRK that he had stepped on the gunman’s weapon while the attacker was tackled by four people.

On Monday, police named the two victims killed by the gunman as Jon Erik Isachsen, 54, and Kåre Arvid Hesvik, 60. 

The suspect was named by a Norwegian court on Monday as Zaniar Matapour, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin. Police say Matapour, who is accused of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, is a radicalised Islamist with a history of mental illness who has been on the radar of intelligence services since 2015.

“We have followed him, to a degree,” Roger Berg, acting head of Norway's police intelligence service, PST, told Norway’s TV2 on Saturday.

“In more recent times, he was not one of the people we were the most worried about.”

Matapour’s defence lawyer, John Christian Elden, has said that his client did not deny being the gunman, but had so far refused to explain his actions to police. Elden told the Associated Press in an email that Matapour was refusing to have his police statement filmed, as is standard practice, unless police agreed to release the unedited version to the public straight away.

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"He did not want any recording of the questioning, neither by video nor by sound, because he thought the police would manipulate it," Elden told TV2 on Saturday. 

Matapour will undergo a psychiatric evaluation during his detention, police said.

The attack led to the cancellation of Saturday’s Pride parade, although thousands of people spontaneously took to the streets of central Oslo on Saturday, waving rainbow flags and laying flowers at the crime scene.

On Sunday, Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a memorial service at Oslo Cathedral that they would prevail against the forces of discrimination and hate.

"These misdeeds remind us of this. This fight is not over. It is not safe from dangers. But we are going to win it, together," he told the audience.