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UPDATED 2.1.2010: Further information on the murders at Sello in Espoo; police believe motive for killings was jealousy and revenge


<b>UPDATED 2.1.2010</b>: Further information on the murders at Sello in Espoo; police believe motive for killings was jealousy and revenge
<b>UPDATED 2.1.2010</b>: Further information on the murders at Sello in Espoo; police believe motive for killings was jealousy and revenge
<b>UPDATED 2.1.2010</b>: Further information on the murders at Sello in Espoo; police believe motive for killings was jealousy and revenge
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Further details have emerged on the course of events on Thursday, when 43-year-old Ibrahim Shkupolli murdered five people, shooting four of them at a crowded shopping mall in the Leppävaara district of Espoo, before taking his own life with the same 9mm pistol used in the mall attack. The current thinking is that the killings were carried out as revenge.
      Several sources have hinted at disputes between the gunman and employees at the Prisma department store and supermarket in the mall.
     
Some media sites are now reporting that Shkupolli first killed his former girlfriend, a 42-year-old Finnish woman.
      She is also believed to be the gunman's principal target and the turbulent relationship between Shkupolli and the woman is thought to be the key to the carnage that took place at the large Sello shopping mall on the morning of New Year's Eve.
     
According to the Finnish News Agency (STT), the first murder, at the woman's apartment in Leppävaara, was carried out in an "extremely brutal" manner.
      The woman in question had earlier sought and won a restraining order against Ibrahim Shkupolli over threats he had made against her.
      The gunman then allegedly travelled the short distance to the Sello mall, where he shot and killed four persons - three men and one woman - in the space of roughly six minutes.
     
The National Bureau of Investigation, Finland's central criminal police arm, have not specifically confirmed the order of events, nor have they given any details of the weapon used to kill the ex-girlfriend, although the Nelonen TV channel has claimed that a knife was used rather than a gun.
      Police sources said on Friday that more information on the cause of death would come from an autopsy to be performed on Saturday.
     
The police also confirmed on Friday that the gunman entered the Prisma department store/supermarket on the second floor of the mall and took an escalator to the floor below, where he shot two men.
      He then walked out of the store via the check-out counters.
      Based on CCTV footage, he then reappeared a few minutes later, taking much the same route as before, arriving on the upper floor.
      This time he did not descend, but shot one man and a woman on the second floor and then left the store.
     
According to the police, it is possible that one or more of the shootings may have been captured on CCTV camera tapes.
      It seems that the killer did not exchange any words with those he shot.
      Police had no information on whether two Prisma store security guards had time to react to events between the two shooting incidents. All four victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
     
The motive for the killings has not been formally established, but it seems highly probable that it is linked to the relationship between Shkupolli and his ex-girlfriend.
      The police commented already on Thursday that they believed she was the primary target.
      The three men shot and killed in the Prisma store were her superiors and the woman was a colleague.
      "The wounds to the victims suggest that the killer specifically wished to kill them. They were not merely bystanders who happened to get in the line of fire", commented Det. Chief Inspector Tero Haapala of the NBI at Friday's press briefing. Others had already noted the absence of any other gunshot victims, suggesting that the killer had not been spraying bullets around the store in some random "spree-killing" act of violence.
     
Nevertheless, police were unwilling or unable on Friday to give any reasons why these four individuals had been singled out.
      According to information obtained by the late-evening tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, it is believed the victims had had some kind of earlier dispute with the gunman.
      The paper claims that those who were killed had previously had to remove Shkupolli from the store. The Sello mall's managing director Matti Karlsson has commented that to his knowledge Shkupolli had not caused a disturbance in the shopping mall before this time.
      Investigations are still going on as to whether this is also true of the Prisma store inside the mall.
     
The restraining order imposed on Shkupolli extended to the ex-girlfriend's home and to her place of work at Prisma.
      It appears that the Prisma security officials were aware of the order, but that this information had not been passed up the line to the shopping mall administration.
     
According to a police spokesman on Friday, Shkupolli had attempted to call his ex-girlfriend in November and had sent her an SMS message, in contravention of the order.
      The content of the message was not threatening. The original restraining order was put in place after the woman had contacted police over threats made against her person by Shkupolli in April of 2009.
      At the time, Shkupolli was taken in for questioning by police, and a search was carried out of his home, but no weapons or ammunition were found.
     
It is normally the responsibility of the plaintiff to notify the relevant authorities about a restraining order, and Sello CEO Matti Karlsson acknowledged that with hindsight it would have been better if the shopping mall had been made aware of the situation, even though with a daily throughput of something like 60,000 customers, keeping track of individuals in such a location is always going to be a tough ask.
     
Eye-witnesses to the shootings have reported that the gunman's actions seemed focused and premeditated.
      The NBI are investigating the case as one of multiple murder.
      All the four victims in Sello were shot using the same pistol, with which the gunman is also believed to have shot himself later in his apartment in another part of Espoo.
      The weapon was found in this apartment.
     
Shkupolli did not have a firearms licence for the gun, and its origins are now being investigated.
      Reports so far have said that the weapon was a 9mm pistol, but this has not been confirmed by the police.
      Also unconfirmed are the claims from the Nelonen TV-channel that the ex-girlfriend was stabbed to death, although police did concur that the killing was carried out with great brutality.
      The names of the victims are not being released at present, as relatives of those who died have opposed this.
      The police are exploring the work-history of the dead individuals and any possible significance this might have for their selection by Shkupolli.
     
When police went to Ibrahim Shkupolli's home in the Suvela area of Espoo on Friday afternoon, in addition to the suspect's body in the apartment they found a red Volkswagen Golf in the yard, said to belong to the deceased ex-girlfriend.
      Police have asked the public for sightings of the vehicle, in the belief that Shkupolli may have used it during Thursday morning.
      The car is a 1994 model Golf and the registration number is LGJ-765.
      Any other observations of Shkupolli's movements in the course of Thursday can also be passed to the National Bureau of Investigation at 071 878 6891.
     
The Finnish commercial TV channel Nelonen showed archive footage on Friday of an interview made with the gunman in 2008 in Kosovo, when the station's news team was covering the celebrations of Kosovo's independence in Mitrovica.
      Ibrahim Shkupolli, a Kosovar Albanian by birth, had returned to his homeland for the ceremonies, and was interviewed in the street.
      He had originally come to Finland from Norway in 1990, and had applied earlier for Finnish citizenship, but according to the Ministry of the Interior this had been denied on the grounds of his previous criminal record.
      He had convictions in Finland for assault and for firearms possession offences, and had also been suspected of involvement in the arranging of illegal immigration into the country.
     
Of greater significance, however, in the light of what happened in Espoo on Thursday, were the threats he allegedly made against his former girlfriend after their 18-year on-off relationship came to an end in 2008.
      The restraining order handed down by the Espoo District Court in April 2009 extended to the woman's Espoo home, her workplace at the Sello Prisma store, and her summer cottage in Mikkeli.
      Shkupolli had opposed the judgement.
      Prior to the court order he had followed and monitored the woman's movements, and had also come to Sello to threaten her.
      Threats were also allegedly made against members of the woman's family.
      The restraining order was to have been lifted in April 2010.
     


Previously in HS International Edition:
  Six dead after Espoo shopping mall shooting; gunman killed himself (31.12.2009)

Helsingin Sanomat


  31.12.2009 - TODAY
 UPDATED 2.1.2010: Further information on the murders at Sello in Espoo; police believe motive for killings was jealousy and revenge

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