Why Did News Helicopters Hit the Norwegian Island Massacre Before Police? (Updated)

Illustration for article titled Why Did News Helicopters Hit the Norwegian Island Massacre Before Police? (Updated)

Amid all the confusion surrounding last week's horrific Norwegian domestic terror attack, one small technical curiosity: how were media helicopters able to catch the criminal at Utøya before police? Aeronautics buff David Cenciotti thinks he has an answer.


Cenciotti thinks the phenomenon—although surprising—can be easily explained. Simply, news choppers are always in the air anyway, and can be easily diverted in the case (and in the interest of) of breaking news. But he wonders: does the arrival of media before law enforcement change the dynamics of a terrorist attack? Might a criminal be prompted towards further violence or destruction if he knew he had the eyes of the world on him? Is it some form of tampering with a crime scene?

Either way, it seems a more than a bit embarrassing for Norwegian police that they were smoked on the way to Utøya so readily. As pictured above, the gunman was out in the open when news aircraft arrived. Had it been a cop inside instead of a cameraman, lives might have been saved. [David Cenciotti]

Update: Well, this explains things. A news chopper reached the scene before a police chopper because there was no police chopper. Shockingly, Norway, with the second highest per-capita GDP in the world, didn't have any police transport helicopter available in its capital, reports DagensNaeringsliv.



I'm norwegian and i like most Norwegians have been following the story very closely. I can answer the question very simply. The helicopter, rented by NRK news agency, was on its way back from another job when it was re-routed to Utøya. They were low on fuel and the weather conditions quickly deteriorated. They only had time to sweep by the island and return to the airfield. (That's why there's so little footage). The cameraman didn't even realize what he was filming until his colleagues had gone through the tapes in detail. The cameraman was devastated to later know what he had witnessed.

As for the comments on the police response-time there is absolutely no room for critique. From they received word till the gunman was apprehended not more than 60 minutes had passed. Keep in mind that the anti-terror squad had to get combatready and drive 40 km to Utøya where the boat/ferry across had been disabled. They still managed to procure another boat and get to the island (aprox 600 meters). From they set foot on the island to the gunman was apprehended it took no more an 2 minutes.

Knowing the facts I don't think there's any need to question the abilities or response-time of the police.

I read Gizmodo every day and I'm proud to be part of your community of journalists and commenters. But I must admit I'm a little disappointed by the speculative nature of this article today. I realize that Gizmodo is a blog, but I still have high expectations to you guys.

PS: The cropped picture in your article is taken from an article in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet that describes this story. "Her tar han bilde av..." means "Here he's taking a picture of..." and the rest of the sentence goes something like: "... the gunman". The subtitle later reads: "The cameraman didn't realize what he was witnessing".

Check out the article, it's worth the read. Google translates it quite well.