Norway: A survivor’s story

Norway-A-survivor's-storyI went to visit Adrian Pracon in his hospital bed today. The young man had been shot in the shoulder by the gunman on the holiday island of Utoeya. He was waiting for another minor operation.He gives a remarkable account of what happened. He says that as soon as Anders Behring Breivik landed on the island he began shooting. He was wearing a policeman’s uniform and had disabled the ferry to prevent others reaching the island.

Then Mr Breivik moved to another point and tried to gather the campers around him by telling them he had information on the bomb attacks in Oslo. Once he had had six or seven people around him he opened fire. It was at that point that panic spread through the camp with people running off into the trees.

Adrian Pracon began running too, shouting at people to hide. Some got inside a building and barricaded the doors. The gunman fired twice through the windows.Breivik was calm and very controlled but occasionally he shouted that everyone would die or he was going to put them to sleep.Adrian Pracon found himself running towards the top of the island, through the woods, and to the waters edge. Many of the students were already there, removing their clothes and plunging into the water. Adrian could hear firing close by and began swimming with his clothes and his boots on but after 15 minutes he feared he would drown and returned to the shore exhausted. As he arrived back Breivik was waiting.

They looked each other in the eye. Adrian thought these would be his last moments. He pleaded with Breivik not to shoot, to spare him and incredibly the gunman walked away. Adrian does not know why. Maybe at that moment Breivik enjoyed using the power over life and death.Adrian remained there, freezing, but too frightened to move. Gradually other young people joined him. But sometime Breivik returned and opened fire, randomly. There were long bursts and people were falling and dying all around him. The water was red with the blood.

Adrian pretended he was dead half lying under abandoned clothes and one of the bodies. It was then that a bullet hit him in the shoulder. He could hear the gunman breathing near him. He lay, injured, half submerged in the water.At one point a 10-year-old boy approached the gunman and told him that his father was already gone and that he didn’t want to die. Breivik did not shoot him.Adrian told me that looking at the gunman reminded him of a Nazi film.

Then, incredibly, this morning he saw a picture that had been taken from a helicopter. It shows Breivik standing amidst the bodies. Adrian was able to identify himself lying there, pretending to be dead.He is a remarkably strong young man who understands that politics and hate lie behind this attack. I saw others today who had been injured watching a special memorial service in Oslo. They held each other and frequently broke down in tears – young lives scarred forever. – BBC