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Danish officials knew gunman ‘at risk of radicalization’

Copenhagen police search shooting site after finding ‘suspicious’ letter nearby; no explosives found

A police officer stands in front of the cultural center in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 16, 2015, after a shooter killed one person. (photo credit: AP/Michael Probst)
A police officer stands in front of the cultural center in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 16, 2015, after a shooter killed one person. (photo credit: AP/Michael Probst)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The suspected gunman of two fatal shootings in Copenhagen was flagged by prison authorities as being at risk of becoming radicalized, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service said Tuesday.

The Prison and Probation Service reported the 22-year-old as being at “risk of radicalization” in September, while he was serving time for a stabbing, according to a statement from the intelligence service.

Also on Tuesday, Copenhagen police cordoned off an area around the site of the deadly weekend attacks after discovering a “suspicious” letter but later said no explosives had been found.

“Investigation finished. No explosives. Cordon has been lifted,” police wrote on Twitter.

Police are on high alert after the weekend attacks on a cultural center and a synagogue that left two people dead.

Police also arrested a man in Mjoelerparken, the same area where suspected gunman Omar El-Hussein was from, but declined to comment on media reports that it was linked to the attacks.

Two men were charged on Monday with helping the suspected gunman, who was killed in a shootout with police on Sunday, and detained in custody for 10 days.

“It’s a very big investigation, very tough. There’s a lot of surveillance material and Internet data to go through. It’s a huge and complicated investigation,” police spokesman Steen Hansen told AFP.

On Monday evening, tens of thousands of Danes gathered for a torch-lit vigil in central Copenhagen to commemorate the victims of the two shootings, which have shocked the nation and heightened fears of a new surge in anti-Semitic violence.

Stunned citizens in what is usually one of the world’s most peaceful countries flocked to a rally in a square near the cultural center that was the scene of the first attack. Many held aloft flaming torches, illuminating the chilly winter night.

A police spokesman estimated that some 30,000 people had turned out to pay tribute to the two victims.

The first victim, 55-year-old film-maker Finn Norgaard, was killed when a gunman opened fire during a debate on free speech on Saturday.

The same gunman then targeted the city’s main synagogue, killing 37-year-old Dan Uzan.

“Tonight I want to tell all Danish Jews: you are not alone. An attack on the Jews of Denmark is an attack on Denmark, on all of us,” Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told the crowd at the vigil.

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