HELSINKI (AP) — A gunman killed a local town councilor and two journalists in an apparent random shooting in a nightlife district in a small town in southeastern Finland, police said Sunday. A man has been detained on suspicion of murder.
The chairwoman of Imatra Town Council and two female reporters were gunned down in a pedestrian area outside a restaurant in the town just before a police patrol car arrived to the scene around midnight Saturday, police spokeswoman Heli Jamsen-Turkki said. Police said two of the victims were in their early 50s and one was in her mid-30s.
Police detained a 23-year-old local man who didn't resist arrest. He fired four or five shots, hitting his victims in the head and torso with a hunting rifle, authorities said.
Saku Tielinen, who is leading the investigation, said the suspect had a criminal record, including for violent incidents and theft but declined to identify him or give more details.
"There is no indication of a political motive. It seems the gunman and victims didn't know each other," Tielinen said. "All indications are that he chose his victims randomly."
Investigators will question him later Sunday. The suspect arrived outside the restaurant in his car and shot the three women as they stepped out of the restaurant. He then waited in the car until police arrived and accompanied officers silently and peacefully, police said.
Imatra, which has 28,000 inhabitants, is about 230 kilometers (140 miles) east of the capital, Helsinki.
"We decided to open a crisis center after the shooting occurred right in the middle of the town near restaurants and nightclubs," said Saara Raudasoja, a spokeswoman for the South Karelia Social and Health Care District. "There were people there when it happened. In such a small place, it's quite a huge incident and many people were shocked."
In Finland, a country of 5.4 million people with strong hunting traditions, there are 650,000 officially recognized gun owners although homicides with guns are unusual. But after two fatal school shootings early this decade, gun laws have been tightened.