Houston Norwegian community watching, waiting

July 23, 2011 4:22:41 PM PDT
Norwegian authorities are learning more about the gunman who killed at least 92 people Friday while a Houston family still worries about the loved ones they have visiting there. Norwegian officials are still trying to piece together information on the deadly attack. They believe the same man carried out the explosion that ripped through an Oslo office building and the shooting at an island retreat.

Houston's large Norwegian community is still coming to grips with what happened in their homeland.

Houston has the largest contingent of Norwegians outside Norway, largely due to the oil and gas industry. Now, they are glued to television and the Internet as this tragedy continues to unfold.

Outside the Norwegian Seaman's Church in Pasadena, flags fly at half staff.

"It's bigger than we thought," Ingvild Labraten with the church said of the attack.

As the death toll rises from Friday's massacre -- now up to 92 -- Norwegians living in Houston await the names of those killed.

More are wounded and missing.

For this small country, 100 deaths feels like hundreds of thousands.

"You will always know someone, or know someone who knows someone," Labraten said.

A 32-year old Norwegian national -- Anders Behring Breivik -- has been identified as the gunman and is charged under Norway's terror law.

While his motive is under investigation, his target appears to be the country's Labor Party.

The Utoya island camp that came under attack hosts students between ages 15 and 20 -- most from political or affluent families -- who have political aspirations.

The shooting rampage followed a car bomb outside a government building in Oslo, where another seven people were killed.

One of the young men shot by the gunman spoke to ABC News about the horror.

"To be honest, it was extremely frightening. It was a moment when you think that you're ready to die, but you want to keep fighting. So I asked him, 'Please don't shoot me,' and he turned away," victim Adrian Pacon said.

Erik, also known as Sven, attended the same secondary school as the gunman. Since Friday afternoon, he has monitored the news out of his native Norway, from his home in the Memorial area.

An email came to his Saturday morning from a close friend. It was about their nation in mourning.

"Norway is not going to be the same again," he said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement, condemning the attacks in Norway, as did UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

On the local front, the Norwegian Seaman's Church will hold a special prayer service Sunday at 11am to honor the victims of the massacre. The church is located at 4309 Young St. in Pasadena.

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