ESPOO, Finland – A lone gunman dressed in black killed five people, four in a crowded shopping mall, before returning home and taking his own life on Thursday.
Police identified the killer as 43-year-old Ibrahim Shkupolli, an ethnic Albanian immigrant from Kosovo who had been living for several years in Finland, and the national tragedy cast a pall over the nation’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Shkupolli killed his ex-girlfriend, a Finnish woman, at her home, and four employees of the Prisma grocery store at the Sello shopping mall in Espoo, six miles west of Helsinki, the capital.
It was unclear whom he shot first.
The former girlfriend, who was 42, had also worked at the same Prisma store, and police superintendent Jukka Kaski said she had a restraining order imposed on Shkupolli.
The Finnish newspaper, Aamulehti, wrote that Shkupolli allegedly stalked the woman for years and that she had complained to police about how he used to show up at the Prisma grocery store to watch her.
National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero told the Aamulehti daily that it was unlikely the gunman had targeted specific Prisma employees but that police didn’t know for sure.
After killing the four mall workers, the gunman fled the area and was at large for several hours. Police eventually found his body at his Espoo home, and Kaski said the cause of death was suicide.
It was the third such massacre in Finland in about two years and once again raised questions about gun control in a Nordic country where hunting is popular.
In September 2008, a lone gunman killed nine fellow students and a teacher at a vocational college before shooting himself to death in the western town of Kauhajoki.
In November 2007, an 18-year-old student fatally shot eight people and himself at a high school in southern Finland.