Chilling footage has emerged of the moment Norway’s notorious bow and arrow killer began his rampage in a supermarket in the town of Kongsberg last year.
Espen Andersen Bråthen, 38, went on trial yesterday for the murder of five people and attempted murder of 11 more on October 13, 2021.
The Muslim convert, who was listed by Norwegian security services as a person of concern as early as 2015, hacked his victims to death with a hunting knife after having unleashed a torrent of arrows at innocent bystanders in a Co-Op Extra supermarket.
CCTV footage, released by police as Bråthen’s trial began, showed how the killer strode into the store brandishing a bow with a quiver of deadly arrows and a huge hunting knife sheathed on his belt.
Dressed in khaki trousers and a plain white vest, the killer loaded his arrows and let them fly at terrified civilians with no hesitation.
The 38-year-old pleaded guilty before a judge yesterday morning as the court heard how he stalked the streets of Kongsberg with dozens of arrows before stabbing five people aged 52-78, including four women, to death.
Dressed in khaki trousers and a plain white vest, the killer loaded his arrows and let them fly at terrified civilians with no hesitation
CCTV footage, released by police as Bråthen’s trial began, showed how the killer strode into the store brandishing a bow with a quiver of deadly arrows and a huge hunting knife sheathed on his belt
Espen Andersen Bråthen, 38, went on trial yesterday for the murder of five people and attempted murder of 11 more on October 13, 2021
Kongsberg is a small town in southern Norway that straddles the Numedalslågen river with a population of about 26,000. It is known as the home of the Royal Norwegian Mint, houses the headquarters of a major arms manufacturer, and serves as a satellite campus for the University of South-Eastern Norway
The killer’s first victims were Gunnar Sauve and Liv Borge, a married couple who were hacked to death in their ground floor apartment.
He went on to stab Gun Marith Madsen, a 75-year-old who walked with the aid of a zimmer frame, before attacking Andrea Meyer, 52, from Hamburg, and ceramic artist Hanne Englund, also aged in her 50s.
Local police officer Rigoberto Villarroel, 48, was in the Co-Op Extra store with his family when Bråthen began shooting, and was hit in the back, but ultimately survived.
Bråthen, whose lawyers insist is insane and should be sentenced to compulsory mental health care in a psychiatric facility rather than a prison, told the court he thought he was going blind and wanted to kill people while he could see ‘for a better life’.
‘I got the idea that in order to be born again, in a good place, I had to kill. I thought, now I can go out and kill before I go blind,’ the killer told the court.
‘There is no danger of this happening again, because now I know that I will not go blind and that it is wrong to kill.
‘I regret what I have done and wish that the people I killed were still alive. I very much regret it.’
After firing his arrows and hitting Villarroel in the supermarket, Bråthen discarded the weapon and ran down to Hytegatten – one of the most historic streets in Kongsberg.
There he used his hunting knife to massacre former electricity firm employee Borge and ex legal official Sauve in their apartment overlooking the Numedalslågen River which flows through the town.
He then took his blade to Madsen, who was killed in her ground floor apartment at the end of the same street, around 100m away from the home of Sauve and Borge.
Neighbours said two men living in the flat above her rushed to help after hearing a disturbance, but were unable to save her.
Ceramic artist Hanne Englund who was aged in her 50s was also murdered by Bråthen after he managed to enter her studio home on Hytegatten and barricaded himself inside.
Local residents described the mother-of-two who had a long term partner as ‘warm hearted’ and ‘flamboyant’ and ‘beautiful’ with many friends around the town, and known for holding an annual midsummer party in her garden for all her neighbours.
German-born Meyer meanwhile was left in a pool of blood outside Englund’s home and died in the street.
Retired couple Gunnar Sauve and Liv Borge, aged in their 60s, were among those killed
Another victim was Gun Marith Madsen, 75, who walked with the aid of a frame
Andrea Meyer, 52 (left), who was originally from Hamburg, died at the hands of the killer. She was left in a pool of blood outside the home of Hanne Englund (right), who was stabbed to death in her home
The bow and arrow ‘terrorist’ who rampaged through a Norwegian town killed all five of his victims in the same street
Bråthen, described as an ‘unstable loner’ by court documents and neighbours, had a long criminal history and said he had converted to Islam – though police dispute this and say he is mentally ill.
The PST – Norway’s equivalent of MI5 – had contacted Bråthen in 2015, more than six years before he launched his lethal attack.
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.
PST’s evaluation of him at the time was that ‘he was not motivated by religion or ideology but was seriously mentally ill’, while childhood friends told police Bråthen had developed mental health problems in his teens, became disconnected from society, and then became a ‘ticking time bomb’.
One man, who reported Bråthen to police over the 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.
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.’
Student Mohammed Shabam, 25, who lives at the end of Hytegatten said he and his friend Ibrahim Saffokri, 20, who lives with him had a lucky escape (home pictured)
Bråthen began his rampage by taking potshots at shoppers inside the Co-Op Extra supermarket in the town of Kongsberg (pictured), west of Oslo
Police say Bråthen let loose on locals and a police officer with a bow and arrow, then switched to a hunting knife which he used to kill five people (townspeople pay tribute to the victims in Kongsberg, October 15, 2021)
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 VG about him, saying that he was a popular kid, 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’ with which he was 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 the killer’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.