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Norway bow 'terrorist' most likely carried out attack due to mental illness, police say as they confirm he fired arrows at 'many more' than the five people he killed

  The bow and arrow 'terrorist' who killed five people in a bloody rampage in Norway most likely carried out the attack due to menta...

 The bow and arrow 'terrorist' who killed five people in a bloody rampage in Norway most likely carried out the attack due to mental illness, police have said. 

Thomas Omholt, police inspector leading investigations in the town of Kongsberg, made the revelation as he said that Espen Andersen Bråthen has been officially charged with five counts of murder.

But more charges will be added, Omholt said, because 37-year-old Bråthen shot at 'many more' people than the five he killed and three he wounded.

Bråthen has not yet been charged with terrorism, he added, but said police have not discounted it as a motive and investigations are continuing.   

Espen Andersen Bråthen, 37, is due in court today after Norway bow massacre that killed five as police said he has been sent to health services for a psychological evaluation

Espen Andersen Bråthen, 37, is due in court today after Norway bow massacre that killed five as police said he has been sent to health services for a psychological evaluation

Bråthen has admitted to being the one who attacked the town of Kongsberg with a bow and arrow late Wednesday, killing five (pictured, forensic officers at the scene)

Bråthen has admitted to being the one who attacked the town of Kongsberg with a bow and arrow late Wednesday, killing five (pictured, forensic officers at the scene)

Police say Bråthen opened fire on locals and officer with a bow and arrow, then switched to a second - as-yet unidentified weapon - which he used to kill an artist at this studio

A tribute is pictured close to the scene of the attack. The card says 'rest in peace' at the top, and is addressed from the 'Filipino community of Kongsberg'

A tribute is pictured close to the scene of the attack. The card says 'rest in peace' at the top, and is addressed from the 'Filipino community of Kongsberg'

Bråthen launched his attack at a Coop Extra supermarket close to where he lived in Kongsberg (right), before marauding through the streets leaving five people dead, before he was arrested

Bråthen launched his attack at a Coop Extra supermarket close to where he lived in Kongsberg (right), before marauding through the streets leaving five people dead, before he was arrested

Omholt said officers have been considering several motives during their probe, including 'anger, revenge, impulse, jihad, illness, and provocation.'

'The hypothesis that has been strengthened the most in the first days of the investigation is that the motivation is illness,' he told reporters on Friday.

'[Bråthen] has thought about carrying out these actions in advance, but perhaps not for long. This is the strongest hypothesis, but is it not yet the conclusion.'

He confirmed that Bråthen carried out his attack using a bow and two other weapons, but would not give any details about what the other weapons are.

Omholt would say only that a gun was not among them, and that all the shooting had been done with a bow and arrows.

He also said that police are not yet ready to release the identities of those killed, because they have more witnesses to interview and do not want them to be influenced by what they have seen in the media.

Hanne Englund has been named locally as one of the five people murdered by the Norwegian bow and arrow killer during his horrific 'terror' rampage

Hanne Englund has been named locally as one of the five people murdered by the Norwegian bow and arrow killer during his horrific 'terror' rampage

Omholt confirmed that the killings had taken place both outside and inside private homes, which Bråthen had entered with the intention of killing people.

He did not say where the injuries occurred, but did say that all three of those wounded have now been released from hospital.

Bråthen has admitted being the one who carried out the attacks, Omholt added, but has not yet pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

'This is in relation to his mental health,' Omholt said. '[We need to] examine whether he is sane.'

He also confirmed that investigations will look into the police response and whether officers could have arrested Bråthen quicker.  

Bråthen will be held in custody for another four weeks while investigations are carried out, after a court ruling earlier today.

He is currently being held at a secure psychiatric hospital, police said, where he is undergoing evaluation. 

Separately, the PST - Norway's equivalent of MI5 - said their first contact with Bråthen had been in 2015, though it was not immediately clear why they contacted him.

Local police then conducted a 'concern' interview with Bråthen in December 2017, two days after he posted a vide online talking about his conversion to Islam.

Following that interview, police then informed the health service about him shortly after the New Year.

PST's evaluation of him at the time was that 'he was not motivated by religion or ideology but was seriously mentally ill' 

Omholt gave his press conference after childhood friends spoke out about Bråthen - describing him as a normal child who developed mental health problems in his teens, disconnected from society, and then became a 'ticking time bomb'.

One man, who reported Bråthen to police over a 2017 YouTube video in which he spoke of converting to Islam, said he knew immediately after hearing news of the attack who the perpetrator would be.


'He has been mentally ill for many years,' the man told Norwegian media.

Meanwhile Oussama Tlili, imam of the mosque in Kongsberg where Bråthen lived and carried out his attack, confirmed that he had visited three times about four or five years ago but 'seemed to know nothing about Islam.'

Tlili says Bråthen spoke to him incoherently about 'a message' he had been passed by some higher power, saying he needed help to deliver it.

'I explained to him that I could not help him with that,' he told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. 'I said that Kongsberg is not the place to do it.'

Tlili said he had concerns about Bråthen's mental health and thought about telling the police, but he quickly stopped coming to mosque and the incident was forgotten.

Four friends who knew Bråthen throughout his childhood and into his teenage years also spoke to local outlet VG about him, saying that - as a young boy - he was normal.

In primary school he was a popular, liked to play football, and was even 'coveted' by girls as he started getting older. 

But he also developed a 'wild' side and became impulsive, friends said - on one occasion breaking into school through a reinforced glass window that smashed,  cutting his hand and leaving him covered in blood.

The impulsive behaviour got worse as he entered his teenage years, friends added, and became particularly acute when he was 17 or 18.

Having left school around that age, one friend said Bråthen began working a 'promising' apprenticeship at a local restaurant but his mental health issues forced him to drop out.

After that, he struggled to hold down even 'small' jobs, the friend said. He is not believed to have held meaningful employment since the early 2000s.

With no job and few friends, Bråthen 'withdrew' from society - spending almost all of his time alone at home where his behaviour became ever-more alarming.

According to neighbours, he amassed a collection of weapons - including 'clubs stick and batons' that he could be seen practising with in his garden.

Police were often at his house, and court documents show picked up multiple convictions for aggravated theft and drug possession. 

Then, in 2017, Bråthen's one remaining friend broke ties with him when he spotted the YouTube video in which he spoke of converting to Islam.

In the video, Bråthen describes himself as 'a messenger' who 'comes with a warning' before asking viewers 'is this what you want?' and proclaiming: 'Bear witness that I am a Muslim'. 

The friend reported Bråthen to police, describing him to officers as a 'ticking time bomb' and warning them he was potentially dangerous.

He says he tried 'several times' to get Bråthen help, but nothing came of it. 

Looking back now, the friend says he does not believe Bråthen's conversion to Islam was sincere, and was likely just a symptom of his deteriorating mental health.

He told TV2 that Bråthen was 'confused' when it came to ideology and that it was 'coincidental' that he chose Islam.


Kongsberg residents gathered and placed tributes in the town centre this evening after five people were killed and three more injured in a bow and arrows rampage in the town yesterday

A group of young women stand next to flowers, candles and cards that have been laid in Kongsberg central square as a tribute to those killed

A group of young women stand next to flowers, candles and cards that have been laid in Kongsberg central square as a tribute to those killed

Police investigators enter a house in Kongsberg where floral tributes have been laid to one of the victims of the Kongsberg bow attack

Police investigators enter a house in Kongsberg where floral tributes have been laid to one of the victims of the Kongsberg bow attack

Police say they have arrested a 37-year-old Danish man, who has admitted being the attacker. They say he is a convert to Islam and had been flagged for radicalism (pictured, arrows in a wall near the scene)

Police say they have arrested a 37-year-old Danish man, who has admitted being the attacker. They say he is a convert to Islam and had been flagged for radicalism (pictured, arrows in a wall near the scene) 

Police say the suspect was known to officers for 'several different issues' and had also 'been in contact with... the health service several times' (pictured, arrows at the scene of the attack)

Police say the suspect was known to officers for 'several different issues' and had also 'been in contact with... the health service several times' (pictured, arrows at the scene of the attack) 

Norway court to give detention ruling on bow and arrow suspect
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During this time, Bråthen also started harassing his parents, with a Danish relative telling local journalists that they ended up 'living in terror' of their own child. 

The relative, who did not want to be named, said they had known Bråthen from a young age - that he was a 'sweet' child who changed drastically as he got older.

While they could not pinpoint exactly when Bråthen's behaviour changed, they said he had threatened his parents multiple times in recent years. 

'They have fled to the neighbours several times and have called the police when he has passed by, and they almost locked themselves in for fear that he would pass by. 

'In the end, the mother had to run away,' the relative told Danish newspaper BT.

The threats appear to have come to a head in May last year, when court documents show Bråthen broke into his father's house carrying a gun and threatened to kill him.

It does not appear that the two men physically fought, and Bråthen eventually fled, leaving his Colt revolver behind on the sofa.

But the older man was sufficiently afraid to take out a restraining order against his son - which Bråthen is known to have breached at least once, in August last year.

That was the last time that Bråthen was reported to police.

Detectives are still investigating what exactly happened to him in the lead-up to Wednesday night's rampage and what may have triggered him to kill.

Despite friends and family painting a picture of Bråthen as a mentally ill loner with no special connection to Islam, police still described him as a 'radicalised' Muslim and said his attack 'appears to be an act of terror'. 

It remains to be seen whether he will be charged with terrorism offences.

Police say he has admitted to the killings, but has not yet been formally charged or entered an official plea.  

Local media reports suggest local police considered reporting themselves to the National Bureau of Investigation of the response to the killings.  

According to reports, police responded to calls within six minutes before Bråthen made his getaway, going on to kill five people.

Bråthen was arrested 35 minutes after the first call was made. 

'If we come across information that indicates that there is a basis for starting an investigation against us, we will send the case to the Bureau of Investigation - either in the form of a consultation or report,' Chief of Police in the Southeast Police District Ole Bredrup Sæverud told VG. 

'We have been concerned with providing the information that the Bureau needs, and then it is up to them to assess whether there is a basis for starting an investigation,' Sæverud said.

Police confirmed they fired warning shots, which under often provides a basis for an assessment by the Bureau of Investigation, The Telegraph reported.

Friends said Bråthen had almost completely withdrawn from society in recent years, spending most of his time alone at this address before launching his attack

Friends said Bråthen had almost completely withdrawn from society in recent years, spending most of his time alone at this address before launching his attack

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