Finnish media: Gunman in black kills 4 in mall shooting rampageBy Jari Tanner, AP
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Finnish media: 4 dead in mall shooting
HELSINKI — A gunman killed four people early Thursday in a shooting rampage at a mall in Finland’s second largest city, police told a state broadcaster.
It was not clear whether the shooter in Espoo had been apprehended and some reports indicated he was still on the loose. State broadcaster Yle reported that the gunman was born in 1966 and was previously known to police.
Police told Yle that three men and one woman were killed in the shopping center.
A witness told the broadcaster that a man dressed in black began randomly shooting at people on the second floor of the Sello mall.
Another witness who was in the mall at the time told Finnish radio that a panic ensued as the shooting began. “There were loads of people who were crying, and many vendors who were completely panicked,” the unnamed witness said.
“It seems like they hadn’t caught the one who shot,” the witness said. “No one seemed to know what had happened.”
Police could not be reached for comment.
The Sello shopping mall describes itself as one of the Nordic region’s largest with more than 170 shops. It opened in 2005.
Finland, a nation of 5.3 million, has 1.6 million firearms in private hands and ranks among the top five nations in the world in civilian gun ownership.
Politicians, social workers and religious leaders have urged tighter gun laws, more vigilance of Internet sites, and more social bonding in the small Nordic nation, known for its high suicide rates, heavy drinking and domestic violence.
In September 2008, a lone gunman killed nine fellow students and a teacher at a vocational college before shooting himself in the western town of Kauhajoki, and in November 2007, an 18-year-old student fatally shot eight people and himself at a high school in southern Finland.
Both young men fired guns in YouTube clips posted before the shootings, shot themselves in the head and used .22-caliber handguns bought from the same store.