The Jewish security guard killed outside Copenhagen’s Krystalgade synagogue early Sunday was identified as 38-year-old member of the city’s Jewish community Dan Uzan.
Uzan was standing guard outside a late-night bat mitzvah service when he was shot dead in a terror attack on the synagogue, according to Israeli media reports.
Rabbi Yair Melchior, a leader of the Copenhagen Jewish community, told Israel’s Army Radio Sunday that Uzan, who had served as a security guard at the synagogue “for many years,” had “saved lives.”
“The terrorists didn’t go in” to the synagogue, he noted.
Michael Gelvan, chairman of the Nordic Jewish Security Council, told AFP Sunday that Uzan was responsible for “access control” when he was shot.
Coming just a month after the deadly attack by Islamic State-inspired Ahmed Coulibaly at a kosher supermarket in Paris, speculation has centered on an Islamist motive behind the attack.
Danish police said they had shot and killed the believed perpetrator of the synagogue attack near a train station in Copenhagen early Sunday. The suspected attacker was also behind a shooting Saturday afternoon at a free-speech event in Copenhagen that featured an artist who had caricatured the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, police said.
But Melchior and Gelvan both insisted it was important to wait for definitive information before passing judgment about the motives of the Copenhagen shootings.
“I think we shouldn’t rush to conclusions,” said Melchior. “The first order of business is to return to our normal lives, because the goal of terror is to disrupt normal life.”
“We don’t know anything yet, it’s too early to guess” the motive, Gelvan said, adding, “but it’s a copy of what happened in Paris.”
Two police officers were also stationed outside the synagogue because of concerns the as-yet unknown shooter at the free-speech event would end up targeting Jewish centers. Both officers were wounded in the synagogue attack, but their injuries were not thought to be life threatening.
“I dare not think about what would have happened if [the killer] had access to the congregation,” Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, chairman of the Jewish Community in Denmark, told local broadcaster TV2 News.
According to Melchior, the Danish Jewish community is concentrated in Copenhagen and numbers some 2,000 members. It is “a very active, strong and supportive community,” he said.
“Relations with many in the Muslim community are very good,” Melchior continued. “They don’t know how to deal with the extremists. This is a new situation for all of us, for us and for the Muslims.”
AFP contributed to this report