Ingvild Stensrud spoke deliberately and clearly to TODAY Monday about the horrifying events in Norway last Friday that have left a reported 75 dead, describing how she managed to survive after being shot in the leg by playing dead. The 16-year-old was so composed that Ann Curry asked how she managed it after such a horrific ordeal.
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Stensrud explained that little of the tragedy has sunk in for her yet. “I don’t understand what I have been witness to, so that’s why I am calm right now,” she told Curry via satellite from Skien, Norway. “I think the feelings will come later.”
Self-described anti-Muslim and multiculturalism foe Anders Behring Brevik was arraigned in Oslo court Monday after Friday’s rampage, which began when a bomb exploded in downtown Oslo, killing seven, and then continued on tiny Utoya Island, where a reported 68 young people attending a camp sponsored by the country’s Labor Party were massacred.Video: Motive emerges in Norway mass murder (on this page)
Stensrud was one of the teens attending the camp. She told Curry she was outside when she heard shooting on one side of the island, but “I didn’t understand what was happening.”
She and other campers sought refuge by running into a nearby building, but they soon found themselves face to face with Brevik, who was dressed as a policeman.
“I was trapped in a small room, and when the man came into the house and we heard shooting inside, everybody ran — out windows, doors, into other rooms,” Stensrud said.
But when Brevik entered, Stensrud and nine others were unable to escape the room. “When he came in through the door, he started shooting the people on the floor,” she said. Three of the 10 survived, Stensrud said, by lying lifeless under dead bodies.
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“I think I’m alive because I pretended to be dead; I had a woman lying over my body and I [hid] under her until the police came to the main building and [got] us to the hospital,” she said. “The three people who were alive in the room [were] just lying [there]. We didn’t know how many people that [were] shooting, so we didn’t know if they [were] coming back or leaving us.”
‘Shot for my beliefs’
The attacks, the worst peacetime massacre in the normally tranquil country’s history, have left a nation in mourning. Norway declared a moment of silence at noon today to reflect on the lives lost at the hands of Brevik, who is being described as having a crystal-clear vision in the motive behind his brutal attacks.
Brevik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, had admitted his client committed Friday’s shootings, but denies any criminal wrongdoing. In a TODAY report Monday from Martin Fletcher, Lippestad was quoted as saying Brevik believes “this is the start of a revolution that will change the Western world.”Story: Doubt cast on Norway gunman's claim of more cells
Speaking with Curry Monday, Stensrud showed emotion when she spoke about her assailant’s belief that Europe has become dominated by Muslims and that the various cultures in Norway should not live side by side.
“I think it’s horrible, and it’s horrible that my friends were killed, that I was shot, because I believe in a multicultural Norway; for my beliefs,” the 16-year-old told Curry.Slideshow: Norway mourns after massacre (on this page)
And she found it particularly heinous that Brevik was dressed as a policeman, leading many of the slain to approach him for help when the shooting started.
“He was in a policeman’s suit, so he attracted people and said things were OK; therefore many walked to him and got shot,” Stensrud said.Video: Oslo suspect wanted to trigger ‘anti-Muslim’ revolution (on this page)
Brevik’s rambling, 1,500 page manifesto indicates he was part of a cabal of nine people from eight European countries formed in 2002, leaving authorities to question whether a similar attack could possibly be planned in another nation.Video: Girl pretended to be dead, survived Norway attack (on this page)
The nation of 4.8 million saw its Oslo cathedral become a place to gather and grieve in the days after the attack, as people prayed together and laid flowers and wreaths for the slain.
“This is a tragic event to see all these people dying due to one man’s craziness,” mourner Sven-Erik Fredheim told Reuters news.
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