Anders Behring Breivik may not have been able to kill 68 people at a youth camp on Utoya island if Norweigan law enforcement had responded immediately.
For reasons that are still emerging, Breivik's shooting spree went on for an hour or more before police and special forces were able to reach the small island, which is a short distance from Oslo.
The cause of the delay is multifold. 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.
Initial reports pointed to the possibility that an off-duty police officer assigned to the island was not as 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."
Police spokeman Johan Fredriksen indicated in a 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."
An anonymous source in Norway told IBTimes that the police are believed to have only one helicopter, and the only pilot was on vacation.
It is a common time of year for Norweigans to take holidays, and many believe that the death toll from the bombing would have been much higher if it were not for vacationing employees.
When police finally arrived at the camp, they found dead bodies of young adults and teenagers -- possibly as young as 14 -- peppering the edge of the island, and terrified survivors having barricaded themselves in buildings.
Some who survived the massacre did so by playing dead -- laying themselves amongst 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.
"There were 20 to 30 people died in the water, I saw a couple of people being shot and the weapon was so powerful," 21-year old Adrian Pracon told the Daily Mail. "The jet of the water was huge and became red."
Pracon is among those who played dead in order to avoid being shot by Breivik. In Pracon's case, Breivik shot at him nonetheless.
"Luckily I was lying down but people were falling about me. Around my legs, behind me and in the front of me so I hid behind them. I stayed completely still and did not want to show the gunman any sign of life.
"He walked towards me, over dead bodies that were lying around me, I heard his shoes walking and felt his breath.
"He was calm and collective, he was not in a hurry to press the trigger quickly and if people ran, he knew he would catch them, no problem," Pracon told the BBC.
"I heard a loud bang and a high pitched sound in my ear and after that it lasted until I went to the hospital."
Pracon believes Breivik was aiming for his head, but missed the mark.