Finland shooting: three women killed outside Imatra restaurant
Man held in custody after local politician and two journalists shot with rifle in centre of small town
Hannah Summers and agencies
A mayor and two journalists have been shot dead by a gunman in the town of Imatra in south-east Finland.
The three women were shot in the head and chest by a sniper who opened fire on a pedestrian area in the nightlife district just before midnight on Saturday.
Police confirmed that a 23-year-old man had been taken into custody after Imatra city council chair, Tiina Wilen-Jappinen, and the two reporters were killed outside a restaurant in what appears to be a random shooting. They said he obeyed orders and did not resist arrest.
Police said that the victims, two in their 50s and one in her mid-30s, had sustained multiple gunshot wounds from a hunting rifle and that no motive had been established for the attack.
Saku Tielinen, who is leading the investigation, said the suspect had a criminal record including for violent incidents and theft, but declined to identify him or give details. “There is no indication of a political motive. It seems the gunman and victims didn’t know each other,” said Tielinen. “All indications are that he chose his victims randomly.”
Investigators said the suspect arrived outside the restaurant in his car and shot the three women as they stepped out of the restaurant. He then waited in the car until police arrived, and accompanied officers silently and peacefully. Imatra, which has a population of 28,000, is about 140 miles (230km) east of the Finnish capital, Helsinki.
Witnesses said there were many people around at the time of the attack, which has left the town in a state of shock. “We decided to open a crisis centre after the shooting occurred right in the middle of the town centre near restaurants and nightclubs,” said Saara Raudasoja, a spokeswoman for the South Karelia social and health care district.
She added: “In such a small place, it’s quite a huge incident and many people were shocked.”
There are 650,000 officially registered gun owners in Finland, which has a population of 5.4 million people. The country has a history of strong hunting traditions but gun laws have been tightened following two fatal school shootings in the last decade.