The music went off. We knew something bad was happening


At midnight on Saturday night, people in the Jewish community building behind Copenhagen's Synagogue were dancing and having fun, celebrating the batmizvah of Hannah Bentow.

At 12.30, a volunteer guard ran in, shouting that the music had to be turned off.

Within minutes, the 40 remaining guests - many had gone home - were ushered into the safe room.

Mette Miriam Bentow, Hannah's mother, knew that something bad was happening outside as she cowered in the safe room.

Her husband, Klaus, knew that volunteer guard Dan Uzan had been shot but, having a background in security work himself, he knew this was not the moment to deliver the bad news.

Dan was a 'big teddy bear'

Dan Uzan, 37, shot dead on Saturday night, was an economist at the Danish treasury. He had been volunteering as a security guard for the celebration. The country's chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, said Mr Uzan was a person who was always willing to help. At 6' 9 tall, Mr Uzan played for the local basketball team Horsholm 79ers, who held a minute's silence and wore black armbands during their match on Monday. In a statement, the club said: Dan's death has left us in shock and with a big void. He will always be missed. If we should try to find comfort and a little sense in the meaninglessness of Dan passing, then it must be that he prevented an even greater catastrophe. Anya Raben, who left the community hall just before the attack, knew Mr Uzan. She said: He was a big man, the teddy-bear type - warm and kind. He was a generous and affectionate person.

For now they would just keep the children calm, keep everyone quiet and wait for news from the police outside.

The group spent two hours locked away, until they were finally evacuated by armed police in full body armour. The children remained unaware until the following morning that the much-loved guard had been killed by a shot to the head.

"There were 15 of our daughter's classmates as well as my two sons, the youngest is only eight," said Mrs Bentow. "Our focus was entirely on the children, some of the girls were getting a bit panicky so we made sure every child was holding someone's hand and told them it was just a precaution that we were there.

"It has been a tremendous trauma and not only for the people who were at the synagogue but also for the parents who didn't know if their children were safe. But it's nothing to what Dan's family is going through. I would go through that trauma every day if it could bring Dan back."

Mrs Bentow continues, her voice cracking with emotion: "Because, when we found out he had died, all I could think was how could I ever express my gratitude to his parents, his sister? No one deserves this to happen to them, but no one deserved it less than Dan.

"I'm Danish and proud to be Danish, no-one can make me leave my home here in Denmark. But it's the job of the Danish government to protect us, as Danes. It should not have been up to Dan to take a bullet for us. People don't see it as necessary for us to have security; they think we're being paranoid, but this is what we live with. Now the Danish government will have to show whether they really want us living here and give us more protection."

When asked about the future, she sighs and her voice wavers again. "We will rally together," she says, "because that's what Jews do. Dan would have wanted us to be good to each other, just as my daughter Hannah said in her batmitzvah speech, being Jewish is about being a good person and making a difference in the world. That's how we can cherish Dan's memory."

The gunman attacked the shul after an earlier assault on a café across town.

The café had been hosting an event titled "Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression" when the gunman opened fire, killing one person and injuring three others.

The primary target at the cafe was Lars Wilks, an artist who has received death threats since publishing images of the Prophet Mohammed.

After the attack on the synagogue, the shooter, named as Omar El-Hussein, was shot dead by police.

On Sunday, two men were charged with assisting El-Hussein carry out his rampage. They appeared before a hearing on Monday, accused of providing El-Hussein with a weapon. They are also suspected of disposing the weapon and helping the gunman hide later.

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