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Six Dead Following Shooting Rampage

A total of six people died in connection with a shooting rampage at the Sello shopping mall in Espoo on Thursday. Four people were killed in the Prisma department store. Police later found the body of the suspected gunman's former girlfriend in her flat. A sixth body - that of the suspected shooter, Kosovo-born Ibrahim Shkupolli, was found in another flat.

Muistokynttilöitä kauppakeskus Sellon edustalla.
Image: YLE

The discovery of Shkupolli's body was preceded by a manhunt ini the area. Police noted that he had run-ins with the police in the past.

The Helsinki District Court sentenced Shkupolli to a fine in 2007 for firearm violation for illegal possession of a 9 mm handgun and ammunition. The Espoo District Court had also fined Shkupolli for illegal possession of a 7.65 calibre handgun and ammunition in 2003. His ex-girlfriend had sought and received a restraining order against him.

The shooting was reported to police at 10.08 am. Espoo Police say three men and one woman, all employed at the Prisma grocery store at the shopping centre, were shot dead at the mall. The ex-girlfriend was also employed at Prisma. The mall was closed following the incident.

A number of police vehicles and ambulances rushed to the scene, just west of Helsinki. Crowds were standing outside the modern mall in bright, bitterly cold weather.

The mall evacuated immediately after the shootings, and was re-opened late in the afternoon although shops and most other facilities remained closed for the holiday.

"Chaotic Situation"

An eyewitness, Kari Harjula, who was in a check-out queue at Citymarket, told YLE:

"I started to hear a lot of shouting from the outer doors of Citymarket and Sello, telling everybody to get out. The customers and employees were wondering what was going on. Soon some police ran in with riot shields and serious expressions on their faces. They yelled at everybody to get out; that the shopping centre was being evacuated. The situation was chaotic; there were a lot of police inside and outside. From a layman's point of view, it looked like a massive operation."

VR State Railways confirmed that police ordered trains not to stop at the adjacent Leppävaara station. A YLE reporter said police officers had been checking passengers on local trains, including at the Ilmala and Pasila stations in Helsinki. Train and bus traffic in the area returned to normal just after 4 PM.

Finland known for shootings

Finland has been the target of two school shootings in recent years. In November 2007, eight people were killed in a school shooting in Jokela, in southern Finland. In September 2008, ten people were shot dead in another school shooting in Kauhajoki, in western Finland.

In 2002, a young man detonated a bomb killing seven people including himself at the Myyrmanni shopping mall in Vantaa, in southern Finland.

All three perpetrators were killed during the attacks.

The gunman in Thursday's shootings, Ibrahim Shkupolli, was an Albanian Kosovar who was a long-time resident of Finland. Serbian officials told AFP that he was born in Mitrovica, and had no criminal record in Serbia. The shooter used a police-style handgun, most likely a 9 mm weapon. Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen told the press that the gun was unlicensed. As of Thursday evening, police had not confirmed the statement.

The motive for Thursday's rampage has not been fully established, but police believe that it was related to the strained relations between the gunman and his ex-girlfriend.

Sources: YLE, AFP

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