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Police Raid Internet Cafe in Copenhagen As Details About Suspected Gunman Emerge

Police arrested at least two people as part of their investigation into the deadly attacks on a free speech event and a synagogue in the city this weekend.

by Meredith Hoffman
Feb 15 2015, 6:15pm

Photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

Danish police raided an internet cafe in Copenhagen on Sunday as part of their investigation into the deadly attacks on a free speech event and a synagogue in the city this weekend.

Officers arrested at least two people at a cafe near the location where police killed the main suspect in the shootings several hours earlier, AFP reported. The gunman, who wounded five police officers and killed a Danish filmmaker and a member of Copenhagen's Jewish community, was likely inspired by the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris weeks earlier, police told local media.

The gunman has been identified as Omar El-Hussein, according to AFP and local media reports. Police said the 22-year-old suspect was born in Denmark and had a criminal record, including violence and weapons offenses. The Associated Press reported that he "had a background in criminal gangs."

press release issued by Copenhagen police in November 2013 named El-Hussein as a suspect in a stabbing that occurred on a commuter train. In that incident, a train passenger was stabbed several times in the leg with a large knife by an attacker who fled on foot.

Copenhagen shootings: Police kill suspected gunman behind two deadly attacks. Read more here. 

The cafe raid occurred near Copenhagen's Norrebro Station and was reportedly part of the ongoing operation to identify others involved in the attacks. The leader of PET, Denmark's intelligence agency, told the AP the suspect had been on their "radar" and that they believe he was inspired by radical Islam.

"PET is working on the theory that the perpetrator had been inspired by the events in Paris," Jens Madsen, the head of the agency, reportedly said. "He could also have been inspired by material sent out by [the Islamic State group] and others."

The first victim was identified Sunday as 55-year-old filmmaker Finn Norgaard.

"Finn was an original; an incredibly warmhearted and spiritual type," Norgaard's friend Majken Matzau told local media. "Tall and handsome. It's hard for me to say more about it now."

Norgaard was killed Saturday afternoon when a gunman open fired on a cafe hosting a discussion about art, blasphemy, and depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. France's ambassador to Denmark and a prominent Swedish cartoonist were in attendance at the event but were not injured. The cartoonist, Lars Vilk, is known for his controversial cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog.

Watch the VICE News exclusive interview with 'Charlie Hebdo' cartoonist Luz.

The gunman — described by Danish media as being about six feet tall, in his mid-twenties, and of Arabic descent — later attacked a synagogue in central Copenhagen at around 1am Sunday. The shooter killed a 37-year-old security guard who was stationed at a building behind the synagogue that was hosting a bat mitzvah

Investigators reportedly believe the same perpetrator was behind both shootings.

In the aftermath of the shootings, which Denmark's prime minister decried as "an act of terror," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Danish Jews to move to Israel.

"Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe," Netanyahu said in a statement.

Denmark's leading rabbi countered that the attack did not necessitate such migration, and told Haaretz he was "disappointed" by Netanyahu's call.

"Terror is not a reason to move to Israel," Rabbi Jair Melchior said.

Follow Meredith Hoffman on Twitter: @merhoffman