MALMO, Sweden – Police have arrested a man on suspciion of shooting at people with immigrant backgrounds in a yearlong rampage in Sweden’s third largest city, officials said Sunday.
Investigators didn’t give any details on the suspect other than saying he was a 38-year-old Swede, held a gun license and had no criminal record.
He was taken into custody at his home in the southern city of Malmo on Saturday and arrested after questioning on suspicion of one murder and seven attempted murders since October 2009, police spokesman Borje Sjoholm said. The suspect denied the allegations, he said.
Malmo police have previously said they believe a lone gunman is responsible for more than a dozen unsolved shootings in which one person died and several were wounded since October last year.
The victims — nearly all with immigrant backgrounds — have been shot at bus stops, in their cars and through the window of a gym.
“The reason we became interested in this man was tip-offs from the public,” Sjoholm told reporters in Malmo on Sunday. “Then we collected information about him and made a few interrogations. Yesterday we thought we had enough to arrest him.”
Police called the suspect on his phone and asked him to step outside his home, Sjoholm told The Associated Press. The suspect did as he was told and didn’t resist arrest.
Sjoholm said the suspect had a gun license and that two weapons were seized during a raid at his home.
Police are now questioning the man, who has denied committing any crime, he added.
While investigators won’t speculate on the motive, Swedish media have drawn parallels to a racist gunman who terrorized immigrants in Stockholm in the early 1990s. Dubbed “the laser-man” because of the laser sight he used in some of the shootings, John Ausonius evaded capture for nearly a year. Once caught, he was convicted of one murder and nine attempted murders and is now serving a life sentence at a high-security prison.
Police said the case isn’t closed with Saturday’s arrest and that investigators still welcome other tips from the public. But Malmo police chief Ulf Sempert said the arrest was good news and should reduce the feelings of insecurity among residents in the city of nearly 300,000.
“This is naturally a success in the investigation,” Sempert said. “Of course Malmo residents will get a positive feeling from this.”