The Sello shopping mall in central Espoo has been closed following a shooting incident on Thursday morning that has left four dead. Police say they have identified the gunman. He remains at large.
Police are looking for the suspect, Ibrahim Shkupolli. He is considered armed and dangerous, and has had run-ins with the police in the past. They say the suspect was born in 1966, and that he used a 9mm handgun.
The shooting was reported to police at 10.08 am. Espoo Police say four people have been shot dead, three men and one woman.
A number of police vehicles and ambulances are at the scene, just west of Helsinki. Crowds were standing outside the modern mall in bright, bitterly cold weather.
According to an eyewitness, one or more people were shot at the Prisma grocery store. One employee was seen lying on the floor in the upper level of the shop. A man dressed in black was seen walking toward the Citymarket grocery shop.
The director of the shopping centre says that the Prisma and Citymarket shops were immediately evacuated. A YLE reporter on the scene reported around 11.30 that the entire mall had been evacuated.
An eyewitness, Kari Harjula, who was in a check-out queue at Citymarket, told YLE:
“I started to hear a lot of shouting from the outer doors of Citymarket and Sello, telling everybody to get out. The customers and employees were wondering what was going on. Soon some police ran in with riot shields and serious expressions on their faces. They yelled at everybody to get out; that the shopping centre was being evacuated. The situation was chaotic; there were a lot of police inside and outside. From a layman’s point of view, it looked like a massive operation.”
VR State Railways confirm that police ordered trains not to stop at the adjacent LeppÃ¤vaara station. A YLE reporter says police officers have been checking passengers on local trains, including at the Ilmala and Pasila stations in Helsinki.
Finland known for shootings
Finland has been the target of two school shootings in recent years. In November 2007, eight people were killed in a school shooting in Jokela, in southern Finland. In September 2008, ten people were shot dead in another school shooting in Kauhajoki, in western Finland.
In 2002, a young man detonated a bomb killing seven people including himself at the Myyrmanni shopping mall in Vantaa, in southern Finland.
All three perpetrators were killed during the attacks.