Three women gunned down in apparent random shooting in Finland

Updated: 
FINLAND-SHOOTING/

A gunman has killed a councillor and two journalists in an apparent random shooting in a small town in Finland.

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 at the scene around midnight on Saturday, said police spokeswoman Heli Jamsen-Turkki.

Two of the victims were in their early 50s and one was in her mid-30s.

Finland shooting
(Hannu Rissanen/Lehtikuva/AP)

Police said the gunman fired four or five shots, hitting his victims in the head and torso with a hunting rifle.

Saku Tielinen, who is leading the investigation, said the 23-year-old suspect had been detained on suspicion of murder. He had a criminal record, including for violent incidents and theft.

"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 on Sunday.

Finland shooting
(Hannu Rissanen/Lehtikuva/AP)

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.

"We decided to open a crisis centre 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."