A gunman who attacked a free speech event and a synagogue in Denmark was "better equipped" than police and took them by surprise, said the artist who believed he was the target of one of the attacks.
Lars Vilks was at a café in Copenhagen that was hosting an event called "Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression" when it came under fire Saturday. Police said the same gunman was believed to have been behind an attack on a synagogue later in the day.
"This was an occasion which took the police by surprise because this guy was better equipped than the police so he had an advantage," Vilks said Monday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. "These handguns the police had were not very efficient in that firing. So I mean, they were really surprised."
Copenhagen Police said in a statement that the attacker used an automatic weapon in the attack on the café and was found with two pistols when he was shot.
Two people died and five were injured in the twin attacks before police tracked down the 22-year-old suspect and fatally shot him. Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen called the incident "a very severe terrorist attack against our values."
Swedish artist Vilks has had a 24-hour police guard since 2010 after his depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as a dog prompted death threats and a $100,000 bounty on his head, according to Reuters. Vilks told Morning Joe he believed he was the target of the café attack and that it was the most sophisticated attempt on his life to date.
He said previous assassination attempts have been carried out by "very many bad amateurs" but this "gunfight" was "a new thing we have concerning terrorists."
Asked to comment on the equipment used by police guarding the building, Copenhagen Police spokesman Steen Hansen told NBC News via email: "We do not wish to comment on Lars Vilks' statement."
- Alexander Smith
Reuters contributed to this report.