Several people have been killed and others have been wounded after a gunman opened fire in a shopping centre in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Terrified shoppers ran for safety as the gunman wielded a “hunting rifle” at Field’s Shopping Mall on Sunday afternoon local time, with images showing parents carrying their children as they fled.

Danish police said the suspected gunman, a 22-year-old Danish man, was detained near the mall, adding that police have undertaken a massive search operation in the local Zealand region to determine whether he had accomplices.

“There are several injured, and what we also know now is that there are several dead,” police inspector Soren Thomassen, head of the Copenhagen police operations unit, said at a press conference on Sunday evening.

Thomassen added that a motive of “terrorism” couldn’t be ruled out as yet.

“We investigate it as an act, where we can’t exclude, that it’s terror,” he said.

Witnesses told local media that they saw more than 100 people rush towards the exits when the first gunshots were heard.

Shoppers were photographed fleeing the scene after the first shots were heard. Image: Getty Images

Laurits Hermansen told Danish broadcaster DR that he was with his family in a clothing store when he heard “three-four bangs”.

“Really loud bangs. It sounded like shots were being fired just next to the store,” Hermansen said.

Thera Scchmidt told broadcaster TV2 that they could see “many people” running towards the exit before hearing a bang, before they fled the mall themselves.

20-year-old Emilie Jeppesen told Jyllands Posten: “You didn’t know what was happening. Suddenly there was just chaos everywhere.

“We were sitting and going to eat and suddenly we could see people running.

“Then we first thought, ‘why do people run?’ But then we could hear the shots.”

Her friend, Astrid Kofoed Jørgensen, added: “Everyone in the restaurant was shown out into the kitchen, and then when we saw out there we could hear three or four shots.”

Other witnesses who saw the gunman described him as a 1.8-metre-tall man with a hunting rifle.

At around 5.30pm local time, roads around the shopping centre were blocked, the nearby subway was stopped and a helicopter was flying overhead, according to an AFP correspondent on the scene.

Heavily armed police officers kept onlookers back from the area, preventing locals from returning to their homes.

Singer Harry Styles, due to perform at a concert venue less than two kilometres from the shopping centre that evening, took to Snapchat to share his shock at the incident.

“My team and I pray for everyone involved in the Copenhagen shopping mall shooting. I am shocked,” he wrote.

After announcing the show would “proceed as planned” shortly after the shooting, the organiser later announced the show’s cancellation.

The shooting comes just two days after this year’s Tour de France began in Copenhagen, with the Tour organisers releasing a statement expressing their sympathy shortly after the attack.

“The entire caravan of the Tour de France sends its sincerest condolences to the victims and their families,” it said.

Image: Getty Images

This article first appeared on OverSixty.