– It is very special when something so extreme happens, and then you will not be surprised.
It says a man who grew up with 37-year-old Espen Andersen Bråthen, the man who is accused of having killed five people and injured three others when he attacked people in Kongsberg center on Wednesday night.
– He understands what he has done
The two were childhood friends and have spent a lot of time together earlier in life. The last time they saw each other was in 2017.
– It was around this time that I alerted the police. He has been mentally ill for many years, the man says.
Alerted police after watching video
When the man saw two videos Bråthen posted online, the alarm went off. In a video in Norwegian and one in English, Bråthen said that he is a messenger and that he comes with a warning.
“I come with a warning. Is this really what you want? And for everyone who wants to make up for themselves, then the time has come “, he says in the clip.
Below you can see clips from the video:
– I knew him well, and you see quite clearly in his body language that there is something more there. He had become increasingly withdrawn, and I was simply worried about him, both as a friend and as a person in the community. I perceived that what has now happened was something that had to happen.
When the news of the serious incident in Kongsberg reached his childhood friend, thoughts immediately went to Bråthen.
– When I heard what had happened, I sent a message to mutual acquaintances and wrote “This must be Espen”. And that was quickly confirmed when I read the news today. And as I said, I was not surprised.
According to the man, Bråthen has not had a proper job, except for a few small jobs. He claims that the childhood friend accused of murder already as a 17-18-year-old had problems with mental health, and he dropped a good apprenticeship because of this.
New details: Shot at the police twice, then he disappeared
Confirms concern messages
Although he sent a warning to the police four years ago, the man believes that there are no perfect solutions and that it is not good to say what could have prevented this. He blames neither the police nor the health service.
TV 2 has seen the message of concern Bråthen’s childhood friend sent to the police, and also a reply he has received from the police by e-mail. TV 2 has not succeeded in getting a comment from the police about what happened to this warning.
– Was he still on the radar?
The police security service (PST) confirmed that they are familiar with 37-year-old Espen Andersen Bråthen from earlier, and that the police have received reports of concern about him.
– This is information we contribute to the South-East police district, said PST chief Hans Sverre Sjøvold during a press conference on Thursday.
When asked if they followed up on the information, and had a specific action against Bråthen, PST answered vaguely.
– We were familiar with the person in question, how it was followed up, we share with the South-East police district, said head of counter-terrorism in PST Are Christian Haugstøyl.
They will not provide further information about what kind of information they had about Bråthen, or how they received this information.
– Call for help
After notifying the police because he was worried about what the comrade might do, the man received a reply from the police informing him that the notification had been passed on for further assessment.
– I think there is no clearer cry for help than that.
TV 2 has seen the warning the man sent, and he uses wordings such as “can be very dangerous” and “I think here you should really see the warning lights flashing”.
Bråthen is said to have visited a mosque on Kongsberg two, three times in the course of one month a few years ago. The mosque says the murderer, who is a convert to Islam, said he had a “message to the world”.
– His talk was incoherent. He said he had been told from above to convey a message to the whole world. I said that Kongsberg is not the place to do it, the chairman of the mosque, Oussama Tlili, told TV 2 earlier Thursday.
The childhood friend thinks Bråthen was confused when it came to ideology, and that it was coincidental that he converted to Islam.