A far-right extremist suspected of shooting six Africans in a racially motivated attack in Italy was “lucid and determined, aware of what he had done” and showed no remorse, police have said.
Luca Traini, 28, was arrested on suspicion of multiple counts of attempted murder aggravated by “racial hatred” following the drive-by attack in the central city of Macerata.
Five men and one woman were wounded in the two-hour shooting spree on Saturday night. They were from Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and Mali, according to RAI state television.
Italian authorities said they seized Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf and other publications linked to Nazism from Traini’s home on Sunday. They also found a flag with a Celtic cross, a symbol commonly used by white supremacists.
Traini, who is Italian, was an unsuccessful candidate last year in a local election for the anti-migrant Northern League political party. Italy’s ANSA news agency quoted acquaintances saying he previously had ties with the neo-fascist Forza Nuova and CasaPound parties.
Photographs released by police showed Traini with a neo-Nazi tattoo prominently on his forehead. Video footage showed him with an Italian flag draped around him as he was arrested.
Colonel Michele Roberti, the Carabineri commander in Macerata, told Sky TG24 that Traini demonstrated no remorse for the two-hour rampage and “it’s likely that he carried out this crazy gesture as a sort of retaliation, a sort of vendetta” for the gruesome killing of a white Italian teenager a few days earlier.
A Nigerian man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro, whose dismembered remains of were found in two suitcases days after she walked away from a drug rehab community.
Police said her bloody clothes, a receipt from a pharmacy where she bought a syringe, and knives linked to crime were found in the suspect’s apartment.
Roberti ruled out any personal connection between Traini and the teenager.
One of the people wounded in Saturday’s shooting said she no longer feels free to walk around the city “with peace of mind”.
The 29-year-old Nigerian, identified only as Jennifer, told Italian daily newspaper La Stampa from her hospital bed she was “talking and laughing with three other people” when she was struck by the bullet.
‘’I never hurt anyone,” she added.
Another of the six victims was treated and released on the night of the shooting.
The remaining patients were all in stable condition, with one in intensive care and Jennifer facing surgery on her shoulder, doctors said.
Jennifer’s boyfriend told La Repubblica they were waiting at a bus station when he saw a man pointing something at them from a black car. He realised then that it was a gun.
Ogie Igbinowania said: “I gave Jennifer a push to get her out of the way and threw myself down. And I heard a shot: Boom!”
Jennifer told the newspaper she arrived in Italy seven months ago and joined her boyfriend in Macerata.
“I have always been comfortable here. People are friendly. I don’t know why that guy fired at us,” she said.
A Nigerian community leader in Macerata, Sammy Kunoun, said he heard the shots as he was going to meet with cultural mediators about organising a sit-in to support Ms Mastropietro’s family. They called off the event after the shootings for fear of further racist attacks.
“Now, we are all victims in this story,” said Mr Kunoun, adding that the immigrant community has always been well-integrated in Macerata. According to official statistics, foreigners account for 9.2 per cent of the city’s 43,000 residents.
The shooting spree came amid a heated general electoral campaign in which anti-foreigner sentiment has become a key theme.
Hundreds of of thousands of migrants have landed in Italy in the last few years after crossing the Mediterranean Sea in smugglers’ boats.
Matteo Salvini, the head of the rebranded Northern League party, had capitalised on the teen’s killing in campaign appearances before the shooting spree.
Salvini is pledging to deport 150,000 migrants in his first year in office if his party wins control of parliament in the 4 March election. He has been accused of using the migrant crisis to foment xenophobia for political gain.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni warned “the state will be particularly severe against whoever thinks of feeding the spiral of violence.”
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