Six Dead After Mall Shooting Spree In Finland

Four people were killed today when a gunman opened fire in the Espoo, Finland shopping mall where his ex-girlfriend worked. Later she was found dead in her apartment and after a manhunt, the shooter killed himself.

Around 10 a.m. local time, police say 43-year-old Ibrahim Shkupolli walked into a grocery store in the Sello shopping mall and fired seven shots, killing one woman and three men CNN reports. According to Mika Pettersson, editor-in-chief of the Finnish news agency STT:

"People saw a gunman, calm, walking out of the grocery store after shooting... People first thought it was fireworks that had been exploding, but after they realized what had happened, there was a panic."

Grocery store employees were evacuated so quickly they didn't have time to put coats on and were left outside in temperatures below freezing, while shoppers were told to flee and leave their cars in the parking lot. Police launched a manhunt in the Helsinki suburb and instructed train operators not to stop at a nearby station. They released a photo of Shkupolli, who was convicted of assault in 2001 and of firearms offenses in 2004 and 2007, and said they believed he was on the run in a black BMW, according to the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Later Shkupolli's ex-girlfriend, who had a restraining order against him, was found dead in her apartment. It's unclear if she was killed before or after the mall shooting, but AFP reports that authorities believe the rampage was triggered by a domestic dispute. Hours after the shooting police confirmed that they found Shkupolli's body after he turned his gun on himself.

Gun violence became a major issue in Finland after an 18-year-old student killed nine people including himself at a school north of Helsinki in November 2007 and a 22-year-old shot 10 people then himself at another school in September 2008. Finland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world and both shooters had easily obtained licenses for their handguns.

Gunman Is Sixth Victim In Finland Shootings Police Say [CNN]
Shooting Suspect Previously Convicted Of Firearms Offences [Helsingin Sanomat]
Finnish Mall Gunman Kills Five, Then Found Dead [AFP]