Malmö shooter remanded again as charges mount

The 38-year-old suspected Malmö serial shooter had been ordered to remain in custody as suspicions against him widened to three murders and 10 attempted murders.

Malmö shooter remanded again as charges mount

The man, who has been identified as Peter Mangs, was to remain in custody until Tuesday, when a decision would be made on whether he will be charged for additional suspicions.

He remains in detention as a suspect with probable cause since he could obstruct the investigation and according to the district court, there is a risk he could continue to engage in criminal activity.

Mangs is currently in custody on suspicion of the murder of a young woman in the fall of 2009 and five cases of attempted murder.

In addition, he is now considered a suspect in the murder of two men in the Malmö’s Lindängen in the summer of 2003 and an additional five cases of attempted murder from 2006 to 2010.

Mangs denies the crimes. However, he has agreed to remain in detention for the murder in 2003 and the five attempted murders for which he had previously been arrested.

Through his lawyer, Christina Brink, he has challenged the detention for the two additional murders and five attempted murders.

Chief prosecutor Solveig Wollstad has justified the demand for detention, saying that Mangs could otherwise remove evidence and continue to engage in criminal acts.

In addition, the crimes that Mangs is under suspicion for carry minimum prison terms of two years, bolstering the detention demand, according to Wollstad.

She also requested a closed-door session for the continuation of negotiations and non-disclosure in terms of everything that is said there.

Following the ruling to keep Mangs in custody, police commissioner Börje Sjöholm and Wollstad held a press conference together with Dag Andersson from the National Criminal Investigation Department (Rikskriminalen) and Åsa Palmkvist, assistant district police commissioner in Malmö.

“The investigation will take time. There is extensive investigative work to be done, but it is hard to say how long it will take. It depends also on whether he falls under suspicion for other crimes,” said Wollstad.

She did not elaborate on what Mangs said in questioning other than revealing that he denied the crimes. She also declined to specify what the technical investigation has uncovered, but investigators have confirmed that there is certain technical evidence and two confiscated weapons.

At its peak, 70 detectives worked on the investigation, said investigation leader Sjöholm.

“I have never before been involved in an investigation of a similar size,” he said.

Investigators received about 1,200 tips, one of which involved Mangs.

“The tip described a personality that fitted our criminal profile. However, it was an anonymous tip and it took us two weeks to uncover the tipster’s identity, which gave us a completely different direction,” said Sjöholm.

The investigators were constantly worried that the suspect would commit new crimes.

“The nightmare was that he would shoot someone while he was under investigation, but it did not happen. We discussed a lot about how to deal with the situation and also what could happen during an arrest if he was armed,” said Sjöholm.

As such, it was imperative to apprehend the suspect at the right moment. An intensive dialogue took place continuously between investigators and prosecutors.

Wollstad outlined the entire list of murders and attempted murders that Mangs is under suspicion for at the press conference.

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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.”