Man shot through gym window

Two 30-year-old men are recovering from gun wounds after separate shooting incidents in Malmö on Saturday night. Neither of the victims are known to the police.

The first attack came at 11.15pm when a man was shot through the window of an all-night gym in the Lorensborg district. The shooter stood in a courtyard at the back of the building and fired a shot through a window pane, hitting the man below the neck.

“He was hit in the back, between the shoulder blades. But the hospital says his levels are good,” said police sergeant Peter Martin.

A number of other people were in the gym at the time of the shooting. As yet, police have no theories regarding a possible motive for the attack. The victim spoke to the police before his operation and could not offer an explanation as to why anybody would want to shoot him.

Witnesses saw the perpetrator running away from the courtyard behind the gym. Police dogs were deployed in the search but lost the scent three blocks away from the scene of the shooting.

“He may have got into a car there,” said Martin.

Police have not yet established the type of weapon used in the attack.

“But it can’t have been too basic since the shot went through a window and hit the man in the back,” said Martin.

An hour later police were alerted to another shooting incident in the city. A second 30-year-old man was shot as he sat behind the wheel of a car in the Fosie district.

“He was shot in the shoulder and his injuries are not life threatening,” said Peter Martin.

At least three shots were fired at the parked car. A passenger was standing outside the vehicle and a number of other people also witnessed the attack. Again, police were struggling to find a motive.

“But there may have been a threat scenario involving the owner of the car. He was involved in a sale that hasn’t been to everybody’s satisfaction,” said Martin.

The car’s owner was not the person in the vehicle at the time of the shooting, but he was in the vicinity.

Malmö police said there was nothing to indicate that the two shootings were linked.

“Of course we can’t rule out a connection but we haven’t yet seen any indications,” police spokesman Mikael Persson told local newspaper Sydsvenskan on Sunday morning.

Police have not yet made any arrests in connection with the shootings.


US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success

The US criminologist behind the anti-gang strategy designed to reduce the number of shootings and explosions in Malmö has credited the city and its police for the "utterly pragmatic, very professional, very focused" way they have put his ideas into practice.

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success
Johan Nilsson/TT

In an online seminar with Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said implementing his Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy had gone extremely smoothly in the city.

“What really stands out about the Malmö experience is contrary to most of the places we work,” he said. “They made their own assessment of their situation on the ground, they looked at the intervention logic, they decided it made sense, and then, in a very rapid, focused and business-like fashion, they figured out how to do the work.”

He said that this contrasted with police and other authorities in most cities who attempt to implement the strategy, who tend to end up “dragging their feet”, “having huge amounts of political infighting”, and coming up with reasons why their city is too different from other cities where the strategy has been a success.

Malmö’s Sluta Skjut (Stop Shooting) pilot scheme was extended to a three-year programme this January, after its launch in 2018 coincided with a reduction in the number of shootings and explosions in the city.

“We think it’s a good medicine for Malmö for breaking the negative trend that we had,” Malmö police chief Stefan Sintéus said, pointing to the fall from 65 shootings in 2017 to 20 in 2020, and in explosions from 62 in 2017 to 17 in 2020.

A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of shootings from 2017 to 2020. Graph: Malmö Police
A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of explosions in the city between 2017 and 2020. Graph: Malmö Police


In their second evaluation of the programme, published last month, Anna-Karin Ivert, Caroline Mellgren, and Karin Svanberg, three criminologists from Malmö University, reported that violent crime had declined significantly since the program came into force, and said that it was possible that the Sluta Skjut program was partly responsible, although it was difficult to judge exactly to what extent. 

The number of shootings had already started to decline before the scheme was launched, and in November 2019, Sweden’s national police launched Operation Rimfrost, a six-month crackdown on gang crime, which saw Malmö police reinforced by officers from across Sweden.

But Kennedy said he had “very little sympathy” for criminologists critical of the police’s decision to launch such a massive operation at the same time as Sluta Skjut, making it near impossible to evaluate the programme.

“Evaluation is there to improve public policy, public policy is not there to provide the basis for for sophisticated evaluation methodology,” he argued.

“When people with jobs to do, feel that they need to do things in the name of public safety, they should follow their professional, legal and moral judgement. Not doing something to save lives, because it’s going to create evaluation issues, I think, is simply privileging social science in a way that it doesn’t deserve.”

US criminologist David Kennedy partaking in the meeting. Photo: Richard Orange

Sluta Skjut has been based around so-called ‘call-ins’, in which known gang members on probation are asked to attend meetings, where law enforcement officials warn them that if shootings and explosions continue, they and the groups around them will be subject to intense focus from police.

At the same time, social workers and other actors in civil society offer help in leaving gang life.

Of the 250-300 young men who have been involved in the project, about 40 have been sent to prison, while 49 have joined Malmö’s ‘defector’ programme, which helps individuals leave gangs.

Kennedy warned not to focus too much on the number of those involved in the scheme who start to work with social services on leaving gang life.

“What we find in in practice is that most of the impact of this approach doesn’t come either because people go to prison or because they take services and leave gang life,” he said.

“Most of the impact comes from people simply putting their guns down and no longer being violent.”

“We think of the options as continuing to be extremely dangerous, or completely turning one’s life around. That’s not realistic in practice. Most of us don’t change that dramatically ever in our lives.”

He stressed the importance of informal social control in his method, reaching those who gang members love and respect, and encouraging them to put pressure on gang members to abstain from gun violence.

“We all care more about our mothers than we care about the police, and it turns out that if you can find the guy that this very high risk, very dangerous person respects – literally, you know, little old ladies will go up to him and get his attention and tell him to behave himself. And he will.”