Finnish media reports gunman fired shots in shopping mall, at least 1 wounded

By Jari Tanner, AP
Thursday, December 31, 2009

Finnish media: Gunman fires shots in shopping mall

HELSINKI — A gunman opened fire Thursday in a shopping mall in Finland’s second largest city, Finnish media reported.

The Iltasanomat paper reporting that four people were shot at the mall in Espoo, while the STT agency reported that one person was shot twice in the head.

One witness told the Yle agency that a man dressed in black began shooting randomly early Thursday morning on the second floor of the mall, in the city near Helsinki, the capital.

Reports indicate that shoppers were being evacuated.

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.

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