Police ignored orders to drive past Utøya

Two police units from Southern Buskerud ignored orders from their superiors in a neighbouring district last July 22nd not to make their way straight to Utøya, the island where 69 mostly young people were shot dead by a right-wing extremist.

Police ignored orders to drive past Utøya
Photo: Paal Sørensen (File)

Eighteen minutes after the first emergency call from Utøya, three units from Drammen were dispatched to the scene to aid their colleagues in Northern Buskerud, newspaper VG reports.

But as they drove towards the island they received orders to first convene at Hønefoss police station. While one of the teams followed the order, which equated to a detour of 48 kilometres, the two other teams chose to disobey the command.

“I was surprised by the decision from the Northern Buskerud police district since there was a shooting incident underway on Utøya, as well as the possibility of shooting on the mainland. For that reason, we decided not to drive to Hønefoss,” according to a report from one of the officers.

The two dissenting units proceeded to Storøya on the mainland where they commandeered three boats that took them to Utøya 21 minutes after the arrival of emergency troops from Oslo.

Police authorities Northern Buskerud declined to comment on the order for units to assemble in Hønefoss, and referred instead to an ongoing evaluation by the National Police Directorate.

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Kongsberg attacker killed victims with ‘sharp object’

Norwegian police said Monday that the five victims of last week's attack were killed by a "sharp object" used by the suspect, not a bow and arrows.

The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident.
The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident. Photo by Søren Storm Hansen on Flickr.

“At some point he discarded or lost his bow and arrows,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told reporters.

He said that during the attack on Wednesday the suspect killed “five people with a sharp object both in private addresses and in public spaces”.

Police, who had previously said that the suspect Espen Andersen Brathen was armed with a bow and arrows and two other weapons, did not specify the nature of the sharp weapons, adding that they were still interviewing witnesses.

“Everything points to the victims being selected at random,” Omholt said.

According to the police, more than 10 people were also shot at with arrows at the start of the attack, but none were killed with this weapon.

READ MORE: Norway police query Kongsberg attacker’s Muslim faith

During police questioning, Brathen has confessed to the killings and to wounding three others.

The 37-year-old Danish citizen has announced publicly that he is a convert to Islam and initially police reported that there had been fears of radicalisation.

He is however being kept in a medical facility pending a psychiatric evaluation, which is necessary to determine whether Brathen can be held legally responsible for his actions.

“As far as motive is concerned, illness remains the main hypothesis. And as far as conversion to Islam is concerned, this hypothesis is weakened,” Omholt added.

On Saturday, police announced the identities of the five victims, four women and one man: Andrea Meyer, 52, Hanne Merethe Englund, 56, Liv Berit Borge, 75, Gunnar Erling Sauve, 75 and Gun Marith Madsen, 78.