Man hailed as hero for thwarting gunman in Norway mosque shooting; police investigate as terror attack

A gunman who opened fire at a mosque outside Oslo, Norway was thwarted by a 65-year-old congregant who put him in a chokehold, authorities said Sunday.

The shooting happened Saturday at the al-Noor Islamic Centre near the Norwegian capital, when the suspect, a man in his 20s, burst through a glass door just after 4 p.m. and started firing, Oslo police official Rune Skjold told reporters.

Retired Pakistani Air Force officer Mohammad Rafiq, 65, approached the attacker first, the mosque said.

RELATED: Norway mosque shooting thwarted by 65-year-old congregant

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Norway mosque shooting thwarted by 65-year-old congregant
Philip Manshaus, sospechoso de tratar de cometer un acto terrorista contra una mezquita, comparece en la corte en Oslo, Noruega, el lunes 12 de agosto de 2019. (Cornelius Poppen, NTB scanpix via AP)
Police escort a vehicle carrying a suspected gunman to court, in Oslo, Norway, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. A suspected gunman accused of an attempted terrorist attack on an Oslo mosque and separately killing his teenage stepsister "will use his right not to explain himself for now" in a detention hearing, his defense lawyer said Monday. (Orn E. Borgen, NTB scanpix via AP)
Suspected gunman Philip Manshaus, left and his lawyer Unni Fries attend a court hearing, in Oslo, Norway, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. A suspected gunman accused of an attempted terrorist attack on an Oslo mosque and separately killing his teenage stepsister "will use his right not to explain himself for now" in a detention hearing, his defense lawyer said Monday. (Cornelius Poppen, NTB scanpix via AP)
Flowers are left by a police cordon outside Al-Noor Islamic Centre Mosque in Baerum, Norway, Monday Aug. 12, 2019, after an attack at the mosque on Saturday. The defense lawyer for a suspected gunman accused of an attempted terrorist attack on an Oslo mosque and to having killed his teenage stepsister says her client "will use his right not to explain himself for now" in a detention hearing later Monday. (Orn E. Borgen, NTB scanpix via AP)
Flowers are left side of the house where the body of the stepsister of a suspected gunman was found, in Baerum, Norway, Monday Aug. 12, 2019. The defense lawyer for a suspected gunman accused of an attempted terrorist attack on an Oslo mosque and to having killed his teenage stepsister says her client "will use his right not to explain himself for now" in a detention hearing later Monday. (Orn E. Borgen, NTB scanpix via AP)
Police cars escort the transport of terror charged Philip Manshaus as they arrive at the Oslo courthouse prior a court hearing in Oslo, Norway, on August 12, 2019. - A Norwegian suspected of killing his stepsister and opening fire at a mosque near Oslo is suspected of a terrorist act and murder, police said on August 12, 2019, allegations he rejects. The man, identified by media as 21-year old Philip Manshaus, is formally suspected of murder in the death of his 17-year-old stepsister, and of a "terrorist act" at the Al-Noor mosque on August 10, 2019, police said in a statement. (Photo by Orn E. BORGEN / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo credit should read ORN E. BORGEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Philip Manshaus, who is suspected of an armed attack at Al-Noor Islamic Centre Mosque and killing his stepsister is escorted into a courtroom in Oslo, Norway, August 12, 2019. REUTERS/Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Mohammad Rafiq (L), who stopped the attacker at a mosque on Saturday, are seen outside Thon Oslofjord hotel in Sandvika, Norway, August 11, 2019. Terje Pedersen/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY.
A view of the al-Noor Islamic Centre mosque in Sandvika, Norway August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
People gather outside the Islamic Cultural Centre to show solidarity with the Muslim community after Saturday's shooting at a mosque, in Oslo, Norway, August 11, 2019 Fredrik Hagen/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY.
Mohammad Rafiq (R), one of the members of the congregation who stopped the attacker at a mosque, listens as people speak to media next to the Thon Oslofjord hotel in Sandvika, Norway August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
Police cars are parked next to the al-Noor Islamic Centre mosque in Sandvika, Norway August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg listens to media near the Thon Oslofjord hotel in Sandvika, Norway August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
A Norwegian police officer looks on as people gather before morning prayer in Thon Oslofjord hotel in Sandvika, Norway August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
People gather before morning prayer in Thon Oslofjord hotel in Sandvika, Norway August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
A Norwegian police officer enters Thon Oslofjord hotel in Sandvika, Norway August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
People gather to show support, outside the mosque Islamic Cultural Centre in Oslo, Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. One person was shot and lightly injured at a mosque in a western suburb of the capital, Oslo on Saturday. The Oslo Police Department said on Twitter that the shooting took place Saturday afternoon in Baerum. It said a suspect was in custody and no one else is thought to have been involved. (Fredrik Hagen /NTB scanpix via AP)
Police and emergency services attend the scene after a shooting inside the al-Noor Islamic center mosque in Baerum outside Oslo, Norway, Saturday Aug. 10, 2019. Norwegian police say one person has been shot and lightly injured during a shooting incident at a mosque in a western suburb of the capital.(Fredrik Hagen / NTB scanpix via AP)
Police attend the scene after a shooting inside the al-Noor Islamic center mosque in Baerum outside Oslo. Norwegian police say one person has been shot and lightly injured during the shooting incident at a mosque in a western suburb of the capital.(Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix via AP)
Police attend the scene after a shooting inside the al-Noor Islamic center mosque in Baerum outside Oslo, Norway, Saturday Aug. 10, 2019. Norwegian police say one person has been shot and lightly injured during a shooting incident at a mosque in a western suburb of the capital.(Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix via AP)
Police attend the scene after a shooting inside the al-Noor Islamic center mosque in Baerum outside Oslo. Norwegian police say one person has been shot and lightly injured during a shooting incident at a mosque in a western suburb of the capital.(Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix via AP)
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“I suddenly heard shooting from outside,” Rafiq told Reuters. He intercepted and grabbed the gunman, who stuck his finger in Rafiq’s eye. Another man ran up to help.

“The man carried two shotgun-like weapons and a pistol. He broke through a glass door and fired shots,” mosque board member Irfan Mushtaq told TV2, according to The Independent.

Rafiq suffered minor injuries, police said. He is being hailed as a hero.

“There is no doubt that the swift and firm response from the persons inside the mosque stopped the aggressor and prevented further consequences,” Skjold told BBC News.

The suspect, a young, white male carrying several guns, had expressed far-right and anti-immigrant views online, said Skjold. The shooter wore body armor and a helmet, police said.

“We’re investigating this as an attempt at carrying out an act of terrorism,” he said.

Police are also eyeing the suspect in the death of his 17-year-old stepsister. Her body was found at his home, BBC News reported. Police ruled her death suspicious, BBC News said, but did not elaborate.

As of late Sunday, the suspect’s name had not been released.

Reuters said only three people were inside at the time. They were preparing for the holiest Islamic holiday, Eid-al-Adha, or “Feast of the Sacrifice,” the next day.

With News Wire Services

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