The National Bureau of Investigation said Sunday evening that it believes that two men detained in the Tampere region after a chase were responsible for shooting two police officers in Porvoo late Saturday night.
The NBI took to Twitter to announced that police had held the two individuals shortly after 8.30pm and that they were involved in the shooting.
"We are currently determining the identities of the persons involved in the chase and whether they were connected to last night’s shooting. The NBI is leading the investigation," police commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen told Yle.
The police chief said that he could not yet disclose any information about the suspects’ nationalities or other background information. Police also did not confirm whether the shooting involved organised crime.
"The NBI will provide more information later," Kolehmainen remarked.
He had previously said that the men had been detained in Tampere heading in the Ylöjärvi direction. He added that at the time, the suspects had shot at police from the vehicle in which they were attempting to escape.
The commissioner warned Tampere residents to exercise caution. It was not yet known whether or not anyone was injured in the chase.
Investigators confirmed late Sunday afternoon that they suspect two men of opening fire on two policemen on Saturday night as the officers responded to a routine call in Porvoo, some 50 kilometres east of Helsinki.
National Bureau of Investigation lead investigator Kimmo Huhta-aho told journalists gathered for a press conference that the men are both suspected of attempted murder.
However he said that at this stage police could not disclose any distinguishing marks that might be used to identify the perpetrators. He added that some details of the case are only known to police and the perpetrators and therefore could not be shared. He promised to provide more information in the next few hours.
Possibility suspects have left the country
Huhta-aho said investigators’ reticence on certain issues did not mean that they do not have an idea of the suspects’ whereabouts. However he added that the time elapsed since the incident occurred had increased the possibility that the suspects have left the country.
Huhta-aho said as far as police know the suspects were not injured in the incident. In response to a question about their nationalities he responded that this is still being checked and that police would say more when the time is right.
Aki Karvonen, deputy chief of Itä-Uusimaa police department outlined the evening’s course of events for journalists. He said that a patrol from the Porvoo police department responded to a routine call from the emergency dispatch at about 12.22am, arriving at the scene at around 12.30am.
According to Karvonen, upon arrival at the industrial area in Ölstens in western Porvoo, the officers were almost immediately accosted and ordered to hand over their weapons. Following the gunfire, a backup patrol arrived on the scene "within minutes".
The area was sealed off and checkpoints were set up in the vicinity of the shooting to ensnare the suspects.
Speculation about an ambush
In response to a question about whether or not the incident was an ambush, Huhta-aho commented that it was too soon say but the possibility was being investigated.
Head of the Itä-Uusimaa police department Kari Rantala disclosed that one of the police officers injured in the shooting was still in hospital but not in any immediate danger. The other had already been discharged.
He speculated that the men’s protective gear may have saved their lives and protected them from more serious injury.
Police commissioner Kolehmainen noted that Finnish police put their lives on the line every day to safeguard society and added that instances of violence against the police had doubled since 2000.
However he said that cases like the Porvoo incident were still rare in Finland compared to other parts of Europe.
During his first monthly "PM’s hour" radio interview as premier, Prime Minister Antti Rinne said that violence against the police reflected "fundamental changes in society". The last time a police officer was killed on the job was in 2016.
He said that his administration had recognised the need for more police resources and pointed out that his administration was the first in 10 years to beef up police ranks.
"It may not be as much as needed but 300 new police officers would be a plus in this situation," he remarked.
Edit: Updated at 9.17pm to indicate that the suspects were held in the Tampere region.