A TV cameraman says he inadvertently caught footage of Anders Breivik in the midst of a massacre that continued uninterrupted for an hour while police faced logistical difficulties in reaching Utoya island.
Marius Arnesen, a cameraman for Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, said he initially underestimated the scale of the disaster he had been dispatched to record. Breivik had earlier set off a bomb in Oslo's city center and then traveled to Utoya island, where teenagers and young adults were assembled for a political retreat. The gunman killed at least 68 people there.
"We were circling the island taking shots of the island," Arnesen told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "It looked empty, so at first I thought police had evacuated the island. Then we saw people swimming and floating in the water. And then we started slowly realizing what was going on."
Arnesen captured the only known images of the gunman at work, but says he did not realize at the time that Breivik was in his viewfinder. The helicopter was hovering 600 feet above the island for an unspecified period of time before the crew had to turn back and refuel.
NRK editors detected the gunman on the raw footage the next day, as they were reviewing the footage frame by frame.
"I got a call saying, 'Just to let you know, you've captured the killer,'" Arnesen said.
NRK released the images to the media -- which show Breivik among fallen bodies on the shore of the island -- after blurring out the victims' faces.
Arnesen said he considered how he might be able to help the victims.
"I think you always think those thoughts and then somewhere in your mind you realize it's impossible," he said. "There was nowhere we could land with the helicopter -- we knew there was a gunman walking around there. You just try to focus on your job."
Emergence of the footage has the potential to fan the flames of criticism directed at Norweigan police for their delay in reaching the island. Much of the criticism has been focused on the fact that police traveled by land and water to reach the island, because a helicopter was not available.
It is believed that the police helicopter crew was on vacation.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Oslo Police Chief Johan Fredriksen said the focus on the absentee helicopter had been "blown completely out of proportion," explaining that the lack of resources was beyond police control.
"We are professionals, but we are only flesh and blood," The Wall Street Journal reported Fredrikson saying. "We don't mind scrutiny ... [but] it's not the time for people to bring politics and issues of resource allocation into a situation like this."
The Wall Street Journal said in the same report that "overt criticism[sic] of police efforts haven't been widespread as the country continues to reel from the attack, and many have praised the police for their response under difficult circumstances."
In the absence of having an operative helicopter available, responders drove the 28 miles from Olso to Hoenefoss, which is on the edge of the Norweigan mainland, and it was there they ran into boat trouble.
After initial difficulty identifying a suitable boat, police eventually boarded one that could not adequately support the weight of their equipment, and nearly sank. Apparently, the boat kept filling with water as they tried to make their way across.
Early reports suggested that an off-duty police officer assigned to the island had neglected his post, but it turns out that Trond Berntsen was one of the gunman's first victims, and died shielding his 10-year old son from a bullet.
"I completely understand that for those caught in the line of fire as well as for their relatives the response time felt long," Sissel Hammer, chief of police of Nordre Buskerud police district, told The Telegraph. "However, I ask for understanding of the fact that the deployment of armed police personnel will always require time. Personnel need time to be equipped and armed, as well as transported to the scene."
Fredriksen indicated at an earlier press conference that a helicopter would not have been an option even if one were available. "The police helicopters are only useful for observation, not for transporting groups of police," Fredriksen said. "For transport we had to rely on assistance from the military."
When police finally arrived at the camp, they found dead bodies of young adults and teenagers -- possibly as young as 14 -- strewn about the edge of the island, and terrified survivors having barricaded themselves in buildings.
Some who survived the massacre did so by playing dead -- lying among a pile of corpses, where they could recognize friends who had been victims.
Others dove into the water and tried to swim away, but Breivik pointed his gun on those trying to flee, shooting into the water.
At least one survivor may have been endangered by the presence of the NRK helicopter. Marianne Bremnes says her 16-year-old daughter Julie mistook the media helicopter for a rescue team.
Her mother said that Julie had been attempting to conceal herself from the gunman, but came out of her hiding place "and waved her pink rain jacket" after seeing the helicopter hovering above.
"If she had been at the wrong spot she would have been killed, since the police had not arrived yet and the gunman was not arrested," Bremnes told the Associated Press by telephone from northern Norway on Wednesday. Though Julie made it to safety, five of her friends were killed.
"In my opinion, the press should have stayed away until the police arrived so that they could know what was going on," Bremnes said. "There should be some ethical guidelines for how they operate, although I understand the press has an important role to play."
Breivik reportedly did not expect to even get as far as the island, telling his lawyer, Geir Lippestad, that he expected to be killed after bombing the Oslo city center, which is populated by government buildings.
"He was a little surprised he succeeded -- in his mind, succeeded," Lippestad said during a press conference. "He was expecting to be stopped earlier by the police or someone else during the actual day. He was surprised that he reached the island.
"He thought he would be killed after the bombing, after the action in the island, and he also thought he would be killed at the trial," the attorney added. "He believes someone will kill him."