Locals With Norwegian Roots Shocked By Massacre
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than 90 people are dead, and some are still missing, after a bombing in the Norwegian capital of Oslo and a shooting at a youth camp Friday.
Police arrested 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik on preliminary charges in the shooting and bombing.
Police say he dressed as a policeman and went on a hour and a half shooting rampage at a Labour Party youth camp, which was being held on an island.
Survivors of the attack say they were terrified. Many ran through the woods, looking for a place to hide as the sound of gunshots rang out. Some even swam away to safety.
“It was chaos,” one survivor said. “And we started running, and there were a lot of us. Some barricaded themselves inside the building, and we continued running to the shore. We heard rounds getting fired all the time, and we weren’t really sure where to go.”
Hours earlier, a car bomb went off near government buildings in Oslo.
A farm supply company said Breivik had bought six tons of fertilizer 10 weeks ago. Authorities think that he used to the fertilizer to make the bomb.
Breivik is described as a right-leaning Christian fundamentalist who is upset with Norway’s coalition government.
Police are looking into the possibility a second man may have been involved.
Another man was arrested after he was spotted carrying a knife at a hotel where the Norwegian Prime Minister was scheduled to meet with victims of the families.
The news in Norway hits close to home, as Minnesota has one of the largest populations of people of Norwegian descent in the world. More than 900,000 Minnesotans are of Norwegian descent.
Pastor Kristin Sundt, of the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis, said that the tragedy gave her a feeling of unbelief.
“You don’t think anything like that can happen in Norway, so it was hard to fathom,” she said.
She doesn’t know much about the man police have in custody, but she does know the violence will forever change the country where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every year.
“In some ways it will change society,” Sundt said. “Norway is peaceful and has low levels of security, and that will have to change.”
Eivind Heiberg, the CEO of Sons Of Norway, a fraternal insurance company based in Minneapolis, said that this has been the worst tragedy in Norway since WWII.
“The shooting is already being compared to 9/11,” Heiberg said.
Heiberg was born and raised in Norway, and his parents and siblings still live there.
“We also have about 1,500 members [of Sons of Norway] in Norway,” Heiberg said. “At this point we don’t think anyone is affected, but it’s still too early to tell.”
As Norwegian authorities search for those still missing around the island, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said her visit to out-state Minnesota yesterday went from political to one of concern for Minnesotans with strong Norwegian ties.
“They talked about all the kids on the island,” Klobuchar said. “When you looked around and saw other kids, their kids, who looked like they could be from Norway, you realized this hits very close to home.”
Sundt said there will be a service of remembrance at the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis Sunday morning.
The service will begin at 11:00 and anyone is welcome to attend.
NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Bruce Hagevik Reports
To see a slide show of the explosion damage in Oslo, click here.