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MALMÖ SHOOTINGS

POLICE

Ex-gang members hunt Malmö gunman: report

Ex-members of criminal gangs in Malmö in southern Sweden have taken up the hunt for an unknown gunman thought to be responsible for nearly 20 shootings targeting people with immigrant backgrounds.

Ex-gang members hunt Malmö gunman: report
Börje Sjöholm and Åsa Palmqvist of the Malmö police at Monday's press conference

According to the local Sydsvenskan newspaper, the former leader of one of the town’s largest criminal networks is among a group of “old friends who have stuck together” and who are now actively looking for the gunman which has left Malmö’s immigrant community gripped with fear.

“He had better hope that we don’t find him first,” a man who referred to himself as “Leo” told the newspaper during an interview in his apartment in the city’s Rosengård neighbourhood.

The man believes he and his friends have better knowledge of the area where the shootings have taken place and will likely find the gunman before the police.

“It will be much easier for us to catch him than for the police,” he told the newspaper.

At a Monday morning afternoon press briefing, police in Malmö expressed urged concerned citizens to leave the investigation to the police.

“People shouldn’t take the law into their own hands,” said criminal inspector Börje Sjöholm.

“It’s totally reprehensible. You can’t have that in a society governed by the rule of law; it’s the job of the police to uphold law and order.”

Sjöholm added that a number of false alarms had come in at the weekend.

“We received calls about a number of shootings that didn’t turn out to be shootings,” he said.

He explained that a special investigative group was launched after police concluded that several unexplained shootings in the city may be related.

“We’ve gone through the shootings we’ve had. When we realized it could be the same perpetrator we decided to launch this investigation. We’re talking about 15 shootings or so in the span of a year,” he said.

However four additional shootings have taken place since the investigation began which have been added to the original 15 incidents.

Altogether eight people have been injured, and one killed in the shootings.

“We don’t want to say exactly which shootings,” he said.

Sjöholm also commented on the weapons believed to be used in the shootings.

“We’ve confirmed that a number of weapons have been used in several shootings,” he said, although he refused to confirm how many shootings may be tied to the same gun.

Sjöholm also explained that police believe they are hunting a single individual.

“The profiling group has gone through all the shootings and things there is a strong grounds to believe it’s the work of one and the same assailant, but we can’t let ourselves get locked into that,” he said.

Police nevertheless hope they have secured DNA evidence from a man who beat and eventually fired a shot at a tailor and hairdresser in the Augustenborg district on Saturday night.

“The tailor was headbutted, so we’ve taken swabs, taken clothing and samples. We’ll send them over to the National Forensics Lab straight away tomorrow morning for analysis,” Ewa-Gun Westford of the Malmö police told the Aftonbladet newspaper on Sunday evening.

Police in Skåne county received a number of calls about suspected shootings on Sunday night.

“Since 8pm, we’ve had eight or ten calls. We’ve gone out to all of them, but nothing has proven to be acute,” police spokesperson Sofie Österheim told the TT news agency.

Tensions in the city remain high as one young women learned on Sunday night when she was stopped by two police officers at Nobeltorget square.

“A caller warned of a woman wearing dark clothes and shorts who had a holster on her thigh with a gun in it,” said Calle Persson of the Skåne county police.

It turned out that the woman was on her way to a costume party.

“We pointed out to her that her clothing was in appropriate,” said Persson.

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PROTESTS

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.

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