Two men have been arrested in connection with the Saturday morning stabbing death of a 38-year-old man, originally from Ghana, at Café Louise on Nørrebrogade in Copenhagen. The stabbing occurred as part of a mass brawl which left five other people severely wounded.
The two men, aged 27 and 31, are both charged with murder and attempted murder. Police said that the men are both residents of the area and are “of a different ethnic origin” than the victim.
Both men claimed innocence, but police say they have enough evidence to hold them on the charges.
"They both tried to escape, but there were fresh tracks near the site," Copenhagen Police's chief gang investigator Carsten Lerbjerg told Jyllands-Posten.
The two suspects knew each other and are said to be involved with gangs, but police said that they are still in the early stages of their investigation.
"We cannot say at this time whether the stabbing is gang-related, “said Lerbjerg. "It is not clear exactly what happened so we are keeping all of our options open.“
Lerbjerg said that there were at least 50 witnesses to the brawl and that they have questioned three of the wounded victims.
“Their explanations differ, but they all believe that they are victims and not the cause of the incident,” said Lerbjerg.
Police are waiting for doctor’s permission to interrogate the last two victims.
Interviews with staff and guests revealed that the atmosphere was tense in Café Louise on Saturday morning.
First one group of men was thrown out, then another, and knives appeared sometime during the ensuing melee.
"We do not know when the knives were pulled,” said Lerbjerg. “Definitely outside, but perhaps inside as well.”
K-9s have tracked down several knives in the area, but Lerbjerg could not say if one of them was the murder weapon.
About 200 people attended a peaceful demonstration in Nørrebro on Saturday evening to honour the memory of the slain man.
The victim’s friends said he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“He is a family man with two children that worked and paid taxes,” Happy Koffi Djebou, organiser of the demonstration, told TV2 News. “He just went out for some fresh air and wound up dead.”
Djebou said he believed his friend’s murder was a completely random event.
Some of Café Louise’s neighbours have had enough. They want the rowdy bar shut down.
“We are deeply tired of the place," area resident Frederik Faurby told Jyllands-Posten. “The place is a nuisance. There is constant noise and commotion and the police are in front of the place nearly every morning.”
Faurby said it was normal for neighbourhood kids on their way to school to encounter drunks on area bike paths.
A guest at Café Louise was hit in the head and killed during a 2006 incident when a man opened fire with a pistol inside the bar.
Several other morning pubs in Copenhagen have closed down in recent years, so traffic at Café Louise has increased.
Faurby said he cannot understand why the authorities allow the place to remain open, given its chequered history.
Neighbours have started a 'Close Café Louise' Facebook page, and one resident has posted: “Enough is enough. Shut it down."