Finnish police say gunman shot victims systematically

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The Independent Online

A Kosovan-born gunman who killed four people and his ex-girlfriend in a New Year's Eve rampage, shot his victims systematically and did not fire at random, police said on Friday.

Finland's third shooting spree in as many years has shocked many. Mourners placed candles outside the shopping centre where four of the five murders took place and huddled outside in icy conditions.

Police said Ibrahim Shkupolli, 43, used a handgun to kill three men and a woman at the Sello mall in Espoo, a town near Helsinki, as shoppers stocked up for the New Year holiday.

Shkupolli killed his ex-girlfriend, who had worked at the mall, in an apartment before killing himself at his own home.

"We don't know if the shooter knew the victims [in the shopping centre] beforehand. We are looking into that," Detective Superintendent Esa Gronlund told a news conference. "At this point, we cannot say why they were shot."

But Gronlund, who is leading the investigation, said Shkupolli was systematic in the way he shot the victims at the mall. "The shootings have taken place in a way that you cannot call them random," he said.

Police said it appeared that Shkupolli, who did not have Finnish citizenship, was acting alone.

The shootings prompted more national soul-searching over Finland's gun control laws, which were already tightened after two school shootings in 2007 and 2008.

Police did not discuss gun regulations at the news conference. They said the handgun used in the shootings had been unlicensed, making it difficult to investigate.

Gronlund said he could not say if the ex-girlfriend was killed before or after the other victims.

But using closed circuit television and other evidence, police pieced together the path that Shkupolli took as he stalked the mall. Footage has not been released.

Police confirmed that Shkupolli was known to them and that a restraining order had ordered him to stay away from his ex-girlfriend. He violated the terms of the order in mid-November, attempting to phone the ex-girlfriend and sending her a text message. Police said the contents of that message did not contain anything threatening.