A gunman last night killed Tiina Wilen-Jappinen, Social Democratic town council leader, and two journalists in Imatra, Finland.
The trio had just left a restaurant in the southeastern border town’s nightlife centre when they were shot. A 23-year-old suspect was immediately, peacefully arrested. Police believe the attack was random and not political or religious.
The male suspect did not own the lawfully-registered hunting rifle used in the shooting. The shooting at around midnight killed all three female victims at the scene. The women were shot in their heads and torsos. Candles were left at the scene. Police have yet to confirm the journalists’ identities, but said one was in her 50s and the other in her 30s.
South Karelia health and social care spokesperson Saara Raudasoja said “We decided to open a crisis centre after the shooting occurred right in the middle of the town centre near restaurants and nightclubs[…] In such a small place, it’s quite a huge incident and many people were shocked.” The town is home to around 28,000 people.
Police said the attacker outside the restaurant opened fire when the victims left. He then stayed in his car awaiting police. Southeast Finland police Sgt Heli Jämsén-Turkki said the attack was so rapid the victims were most likely chosen at random. Lead investigator Saku Tielinen said the suspect had prior convictions for violence and theft.
“It seems the gunman and victims didn’t know each other,” said Tielinen. Police said four or five shots were fired. The suspect, who lives locally, tested negative for alcohol and other tests are pending.
Bloodstains were visible in the snow. A church service was planned for tonight. Officials including Prime Minister Juha Sipila have expressed respects online.
Finland enjoys one of Europe’s lowest crime rates and has one of the highest levels of gun possession. The country has strong hunting traditions. Of 5.4 million inhabitants, 650,000 have registered ownership of firearms. Two school shootings led to a recent increase in gun control nationally.