Elin L’Estrange, born to an Irish father and Norwegian mother, was on hand at the camp in Norway where gunman Anders Breivik, who is now on trial, opened fire killing 77 people. The July shooting came just two hours after Breivik set off a bomb at the Prime Minister’s offices in Oslo, killing 8 and injuring more than 200.
The Belfast Telegraph reports on the stories L’Estrange, 24, shared on RTE’s ‘The Morning Show with Sybil and Martin.’ L’Estrange was working at the Norwegian camp that serves as the Labor Party’s (the governing party in Norway) youth camp. Her brother was in attendance with her for the first time, while that had been the counselor’s fifth year attending.
L’Estrange remembers the overall mood of the camp being jovial prior to the atrocities. People grew concerned and upset when a car bomb was detonated at the Norwegian Prime Minister’s office, which killed 8 people and injured more than 200. Though nervous about the happenings, no one thought the camp would be the next target.
Just two hours later, Anders Breivik had breached the camp and continued his killing spree. The camp was a deliberate target as it, according to Breivik, promoted a "multiculturalist" regime that is deconstructing Norway's national identity by allowing immigration.
L’Estrange recalls hearing loud noises which she knew almost instantly were gunshots, but hoped desperately that they were only firecrackers.
“Then people started screaming and there were more gunshots and we realised there was someone shooting just a few metres away. What happened was that we heard, unmistakably, a massacre going on in the very next room to us,” said L’Estrange.
Initially, L’Estrange and the others who were with her in the room attempted to barricade themselves from the Breivik. L’Estrange realized terrifyingly that the walls of the room were plaster and would offer little protection; they needed to make a run for it. They fled from the room and through the woods to the water where the only option was to swim away in the cold currents.
L’Estrange ultimately survived the horrors of July 22nd in Norway, but 69 others at the camp were murdered at the hands of Breivik.
Anders Breivik is now on trial for his crimes. Should he be found sane and guilty, he faces a maximum 21 year sentence behind bars. If he is found insane and guilty, he will be placed in mandatory psychiatric care until he is no longer deemed a threat to society.
During the trial on Thursday, Breivik remained hauntingly proud of his actions, claiming the attack to be the most “spectacular” Norway has encountered since WWII. He was motivated by nationalist perspectives, and claims to be a part of “Knights Templar,” though police doubt the veracity of the group. Breivik said describes the group as militant nationalist group fighting a Muslim colonisation of Europe.
While the trail goes forward, Elin L’Estrange still battles with nightmares stemming from the incidents on July 22nd at the campground on Utoya.
Here, watch Elin L’Estrange’s appearance on ‘The Morning Show’: