When Kenneth Johnson first heard the news on the radio about a bomb blast and shooting spree in Norway, he began furiously emailing family members.

Johnson, 67, of Patchogue, learned Saturday that his extended family, scattered around Norway, was safe. But his relief turned to sadness when details of the massacre emerged.

"We're all devastated over what's taken place and extremely upset over the loss of life," the retiree said. "To have this happen by one of our own is even more shocking."

Other local Norwegian Americans echoed Johnson's sentiments, stunned by the apparent case of homegrown terrorism. The bombing in central Oslo and rampage at a nearby island youth camp left scores dead.

Norway, known for its low crime rate, good quality of life and open democracy, has seldom been ravaged by political unrest, said Magnus-Andreas Aase, 27, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a native Norwegian.

"It has been a calm corner of the world. As many people say, this took the innocence of the country," he said.

Aase sought comfort Saturday at a gathering inside Norwegian Seamen's Church in Manhattan. Outside, two Norwegian flags flew at half-staff; a makeshift memorial of candles and flowers was by the door.

"You realize that terrorism comes in all shapes and forms, and all types of ideologies," said Boomer Esiason, sports commentator and former Jets quarterback. Esiason, of Manhasset, is of Norwegian decent and was grand marshal in last year's Norwegian parade in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

"It's a small country and a very tight-knit community that you can't help but feel such anguish," he said. "It's also a painful reminder of some of the struggles we've had in this country, too." With Emily Ngo

Latest videos