Copenhagen Shooting

Last night – Valentine’s Day – I left home around 4:30 PM to have dinner with a friend in Copenhagen. We had a lovely dinner, took a long walk in the inner city, before having cocktails at Ruby. We walked together down Købmagergade, past Krystalgade around 11:45 to the train station Nørreport where I took the train home at 00:04 AM. It was a wonderful evening in great company – an evening of smiles, great conversation, and gourmet experiences, but this morning, I was completely shaken to hear how the night also had been.

At 3:30 PM, there were reports of a shooting with an automatic weapon at a debate concerning freedom of speech with the attendance of the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks. One civilian was killed and three police officers were wounded.

At 00:45 AM, shots were fired at the synagogue in Krystalgade – where I had passed by just an hour before. One civilian was killed and two police officers were wounded. The manhunt for the perpetrator continued through the night, until he opened fire on the police at around 5 AM and was shot dead.

I remember stepping out of the cocktail bar and looking over at Christiansborg, where the Prime Minister’s office was lit up. I remember thinking; she is working late, but thought nothing more about it.

The acts were politically motivated and therefore acts of terrorism. The memory of the shooting at Charlie Hebdo in Paris is still so vivid, and perhaps it served as inspiration for last night’s events in Copenhagen.

My head is jumbled with thoughts. Horror. Gratitude for leaving, when we did and not an hour later. Sadness. Thoughts about freedom of speech and provocations, fanaticism and idealism, scapegoats, victims, and the line between thought and action and why some people believe they can justify murder.

I am also scared. Last night was a reminder that many other people in New York City, Madrid, London, Paris and so on have felt in the core of their being. This could happen anywhere – anytime. Yet, even with the news blaring in the background and the after-shock in the entire nation just settling, today is ordinary. My wonderful son smiles and wants to play with his new crane, I cut sandwiches in small squares for lunch, and our life goes on.

– Unlike the lives of family and friends of the deceased, the police officers, and the many people who have been involved. I send them my thoughts, compassion, and respect.

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