Duluth man living in Norway reflects on tragedyWesley Caple lives about a 20-minute drive from the downtown Oslo area hit by Friday’s bombing and even closer to the picturesque Norwegian island where the horrific shooting occurred later the same day. But Caple, his wife, Hilde, two children and mother in law were vacationing in Duluth when they learned of Norway’s worst act of domestic violence since World War II.
By: By John Myers, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
Wesley Caple lives about a 20-minute drive from the downtown Oslo area hit by Friday’s bombing and even closer to the picturesque Norwegian island where the horrific shooting occurred later the same day.
But Caple, his wife, Hilde, two children and mother in law were vacationing in Duluth when they learned of Norway’s worst act of domestic violence since World War II.
“I started getting texts and emails from friends and family all over and it started to sink in what happened,” said Caple, a 1986 Duluth Central graduate who has lived in Norway for 15 years. “At first it was shock, that this wouldn’t happen in Norway, then sadness for so many people affected.”
Like others the world over, the family went to the television to see the scene as it unfolded. They found out later that Hilde’s 17-year-old cousin, Mathias Eckhoff, was one of the victims.
“We did find out that he was shot twice in the leg but that it is not serious and that he is doing well in the hospital,” Caple told the News Tribune in a phone conversation as he was making his way home to Norway.
“With so many people killed and hurt, and with Norway such a small country, just about everyone has a connection to this — a friend or family member who lost someone.”
Caple said he was surprised that tiny Norway — about 5 million people, the same size as Minnesota — would see such a horrific act from one of its own, especially considering nation’s history of nonviolence and strong policies on guns.
“But a madman can be anywhere,” Caple said, adding that he drives by the shooting area on the way to the family’s cabin.
Caple first joined another Duluthian, friend Rick Haney, to play professional bandy (think hockey with a ball) in Norway “just for the travel experience. We didn’t make much money.” But he met the love of his life, got married and stayed. He is now a top executive with Siemens Healthcare and is father of a son, Audun, 7, and a daughter, Ida, 4. The family spent much of July at a rented home on Park Point.
Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik confessed to bombing Oslo’s government headquarters on Friday and opening fire on young people at an island retreat that same day. He has said in a written document that the killings were “marketing” for his belief that Europe must be saved from Muslim colonization. Police lowered the death toll Monday to 76, from 93.
While large-scale gun violence and murders are common news fodder in the U.S., gun incidents of any kind are rare in Norway.
“The things that make headlines there wouldn’t even make the news here. The worst parts of Oslo really aren’t that bad at all,” he said.
Caple said he believes Norwegians will take time to grieve and heal after the tragedy but that the country’s basic, progressive principals won’t change and that the nation will continue to be a model for how societies can run well.
“There is some of that (European) right wing extremism in all of the Scandinavian countries, but it’s not a large presence in Norway,” he said. “I don’t think things will change that much because there is no terrorist group to react to in this case. There was just one madman ... this takes away some of the innocence that maybe some people had. But I don’t think this will change Norway.”
John Myers is a reporter at the Duluth (Minn.) News
Tribune, which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.