Gunshots rang out on the normally peaceful streets of Copenhagen this weekend killing two Danes — a documentary filmmaker and a well-loved member of the Jewish community.
The lives of Finn Noergaard, 55, and Dan Uzan, 37, were cut short in a rampage that police said could be traced to a lone 22-year-old gunman, identified by the media as Denmark-born Omar El-Hussein.
Noergaard was attending a debate on freedom of speech at a cultural centre when the suspect burst into the venue spraying it with bullets. The film director was fatally hit in the chest.
“He was an original, an incredibly warm and creative person — dedicated and amazing,” a friend, Majken Matzau, told the daily Ekstra-Bladet.
Known primarily for making documentaries, Noergaard had a special interest in the problems of integration.
He was open-minded, cosmopolitan with an interest in religions, another friend, Malene Trock Hempler, told the daily Berlinske.
One of his best known works was a 2004 film about a young Australian boomerang thrower.
In denouncing the attack, Henrik Bo Nielsen, director of the Danish Film Institute, said: “It’s essential that filmmakers and other artists participate actively in the public debate, not just through their works, but also as participants in the debate.”
AFP / Claus Bjorn Larsen
Flowers are laid for the shooting victims outside the “Kruttoende” cultural centre in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 15, 2015
Dan Uzan, the second victim, was mortally injured while guarding Copenhagen’s main synagogue as a bar mitzvah ceremony was taking place.
“Dan and his family have paid an unreasonably high price. We are grateful to those who do something and make sure that we can carry out our Jewish activities. That’s what Dan was like,” Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, head of the Danish Jewish community, told the Berlingske Sunday.
“Many people can be grateful that he stood there last night.”
Uzan attended a Jewish school in Copenhagen before getting a degree in economics at the city’s university.
Uzan was actively involved in the Jewish community, and also on the basketball court.
He played with a basketball club north of Copenhagen which wrote on its Facebook page: “With Dan, there was always room for everyone.”
“It was natural for him to take care of others and offer assistance,” his cousin Flemming Voetmann told Danish news agency Ritzau.