Malmö police probe two weekend shootings

At least one shot was fired in a residential area in the Malmö district of Husie on Sunday, the latest incident in a series of shootings that have rocked the city in recent weeks.

Malmö police probe two weekend shootings

The night before, a tailor’s shop and hairdressing salon on the corner of Lönngatan and Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö’s Augustenborg district was also exposed to gunfire while the owner was inside.

A family discovered a bullethole in the balcony window of their home on Västra Skrävlingevägen in Husie on Sunday. This was the third shooting reported this weekend in the city.

At 10.30am, a man reported that he and his family thought they had heard fireworks overnight. Later, the family discovered what looked like a bullethole in the balcony window and curtain. The apartment is located on the second floor.

Police technicians at the scene have confirmed that this is yet another shooting.

“There is a hole in the pane of glass and a hole in a curtain,” said Lars Rosberg of the Skåne police.

Calle Persson, public relations officer at Skåne police, confirmed to the TT news agency that police technicians have found a bullet or bullet fragment in the apartment.

The family that lives in the apartment are of foreign origin and were not previously known to the police. Police are now going door to door door in the area to look for witnesses who may have seen the shooting.

Separately, overnight, police took a man in his 50s in for questioning on suspicion of involvement in the shooting in Augustenborg. The man was released after questioning and he is no longer under suspicion, police said.

Fifty-seven-year-old Naser Yazdanpanah, who is of Middle Eastern origin, owns the business that was attacked on Saturday. He was in the shop when he heard a bang early on Saturday evening. He saw a man outside and went out.

He was then headbutted by the offender, who fled by bicycle. He was slightly injured, but was taken to hospital. He did not see the weapon nor the shot. Dog patrols have searched the area.

Police were called at 6.35pm on Saturday. Yazdanpanah returned to the premises on Sunday morning to serve its customers. He works 13 hours a day, seven days a week.

“One must always fight and now against him or her or those who go around and shoot people. I do not want to let them think they have won,” he said defiantly to TT, but with fatigue clearly hanging over him.

When TT met him, he had not slept for 40 hours.

Yazdanpanah and his wife had attended a demonstration in Malmö against all the shootings and violence on Saturday afternoon. Several hours later, he himself was at the centre of the next shooting.

On Friday evening, a man reported that he felt someone had shot in his direction following a spate of shootings targeting people of immigrant origin.

Police this week said they were setting up a task force of up to 50 police officers to look into around 15 unsolved shootings in the southern city of Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest, over the past year, which could be motivated by racism.

The crimes bear a chilling similarity to the case of an immigrant-shooting sniper in Stockholm in the early 1990s.

Laserman was the nickname given to John Ausonius, who shot 11 people of immigrant origin, killing one, in and around Stockholm from August 1991 to January 1992.

Ausonius, who in many of the attacks used a rifle equipped with a laser sight, was sentenced to life behind bars in 1994 and remains in prison.

Just as with the Laserman case, the recent shootings in Malmö come at a time when an openly anti-immigration party has just entered the Swedish parliament.

This year, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats won 20 seats in parliament in the September 19th election with an especially strong showing in the south of Sweden.

Police have warned residents against panic, stressing a text message appearing to come from police that had been circulating urging people to stay indoors was fake.

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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.”