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Midday shootout rattles central Stockholm

7 Mar 2012, 08:05

Published: 07 Mar 2012 08:05 GMT+01:00

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"At first I thought it was firecrackers, but when I looked outside I saw police with machine guns and shields over their faces. Everyone ran for cover," eye witness Mats Wiksten told the Expressen newspaper.

"There was a group of school children who had just left school who ran like crazy."

According to the police, officers responding to the call about the robbery were fired upon and opened fire in return, unleashing a total of 16 shots.

Following the exchange of gunfire, police arrested three people suspected of having robbed a jewellery store in Stockholm's Östermalm district.

There were no reports of injuries as a result of the shootout.

"We're looking around the area to make sure that no one was hurt," police spokesperson Ulf Lindgren told the TT news agency.

"When officers arrived the perpetrators were still there and just about to make their getaway."

Suddenly, the robbers opened fire, prompting police to shoot back.

Eleven of the shots fired by police ended up going through the window of the nearby Metropolis gym on Birger Jarlsgatan.

"We had guardian angels," gym owner Per Althini told Expressen.

He explained how patrons and staff at the gym threw themselves to the ground as bullets came crashing through the gym's windows.

"If the girl at the reception had been ten centimetres to the right, she would have been hit," he said.

Fortunately, no one was using the treadmill or rowing machine located just inside the bullet-ridden window.

Story continues below…

"When you stand here and look at all the bullet holes at such heights...if someone had been standing in the wrong place, it wouldn't have been fun," Althini told the newspaper.

TT/The Local/dl


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Your comments about this article

08:36 March 7, 2012 by muscle
winds of change.... should bring strict and hard laws and punishments now.
08:40 March 7, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
".if someone had been standing in the wrong place, it wouldn't have been fun,"

...don't think 'fun' is quite the word I would choose
09:07 March 7, 2012 by OUIJA
Chicago, Chicago, a wonderful town.

Chicago, Chicago, many more to go down.
09:17 March 7, 2012 by karex
It appears that the police need to do more target practice. 11 out of 16 shots hit the wrong building? Those people in the gym were very fortunate and indeed must have had a guardian angel watching over them at that moment. Methinks that in this particular situation the police turned out to be a greater threat to public safety than the robbers.
09:22 March 7, 2012 by Cephalectomy
they saw police with machine guns but then only 16 shots? something is missing there ?
10:12 March 7, 2012 by Rishonim
And at the end of the day the criminals will walk free because they did not succeed in their robbery. This is the way the justice system work in Sweden ladies and gentlemen. In Sweden, speeding carries a stiffer penalty that raping an 8 year old girl. As for the police, well, they are only good for enforcing the speed limit.

10:49 March 7, 2012 by OUIJA
@Rishonin #6

No, Rishonin. At the end, the guilty ones will be those who were not killed by the bullets. The criminals, as you write, will be free and YES, this is the way the justice system works in Sweden. How many times have we read about this?

@karex #4

I believe, like you, that the police in many cases are more dangerous than the criminals they are chasing.
10:55 March 7, 2012 by Eric Cantona
"There was a group of school children who had just left school who ran like crazy."

"We're looking around the area to make sure that no one was hurt," police spokesperson Ulf Lindgren told the TT news agency.

Wow. But you caught the thieves - which is the main thing, isn't it?
11:34 March 7, 2012 by coldjava
Seem like the swedish police are starting to man up... good for them smh
11:36 March 7, 2012 by cattie
Lets see reckless shooting at jewelery store thieves in a busy midday Östermalm. Machine guns to return fire in a busy neighborhood?

What if the police and shot and killed a bystander? What would the consquences for police be for such reckless endangement? What is the mandate of the police in this country? Because it certainly does not seem to be PUBLIC safety.
12:02 March 7, 2012 by Borilla

Do you suggest that the police stand idly by while an armed robbery takes place? Why criticize the police for doing their duty? What about the shots fired by the criminals, who apparently fired first? Are those shots okay and only the police response improper?Goodness knows these pages are filled with constant complaints about the inadequacy of the police. The one time they do what they are paid to do and, suddenly, there are complaints about that.
13:01 March 7, 2012 by djmarko
Almost 11 replies and in true thelocal fashion, nobody has asked the ethnicity of the criminals?? are people scared that the criminals might come from the wrong background??? A criminal is a criminal irrespective of its backgroud!!
13:15 March 7, 2012 by karex

I think that the problem is that the police have been innefective for too long. They barely know what to do with a gun nowadays. That's what's dangerous. A Swedish friend once joked that the Swedish police would run the risk of shooting themselves on the foot if they were forced to draw their weapons. They must be effective and active yes, of course they should. I don't think that anyone would argue against that. But they need the proper training. Little good does it do to show up and not know how to react.
13:20 March 7, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
9 of the 11 shots fired into the fitness center window are at head height or above. Good to instantly disable the criminal with a shot to the head, but isn't the torso an easier target, and often equally disabling? 'Maybe target practice should include target selection training.

An off-beat but frightening possibility is that the criminals were crouched down low during this phase of the shootout, and that the police were acting according to a directive to shoot over their heads as a 'warning' to the criminals to stop shooting, which could have killed innocent people on treadmills in the gym. This would have been the ultimate embodiment of the Swedish justice system: kill the innocent to protect the guilty.

Anyway I agree with most posters here that it is good to see the police responding to lethal force with lethal force of their own. Thankfully no one in the fitness center was hurt. This type of response will become increasingly important, as all the illegal weapons that crossed the border at Malmö (where checking for weapons was 'not emphasized' according to the chief of border security) work their way up the Swedish mainland.
13:35 March 7, 2012 by Corvinus

Djmarko, there's your answer.
13:42 March 7, 2012 by Abe L
I just hope these people get put away for life, opening fire in public should mean you never get out again. Any damage caused should be recovered of their families.
13:55 March 7, 2012 by darky
Kudos Svenska Polis. The 1st success I ever heard made by you guys.. Keep it up ......lol.
14:04 March 7, 2012 by asteriks
Yeah, cops serve politicians and riches and they are ready to shoot people just to save money of riches. 11 people could be dead just to save money of jewellery store and such stores are already insured the same as banks, I suppose. In the end, insurance company loose money and not jewellery store.
14:22 March 7, 2012 by cattie

I agree with karex.

The police's foremost duty is public safety, not protecting the interests of the insurance company of the jewelery story. There is a fundamental error in procedure in this situation, with school children running for cover from police gunfire.

It is not a question of standing idly by, it is a question of what is the priority, insured "jewelery" from a store or innocent bystanders in a busy city area. Since the police were on the scene (and Östermalm is not an easy neighborhood to enact a speedy getaway). Police were likely to apprehend the robbers one way or another. The police reacted IN FEAR protecting only themselves, with no regard whatsoever for public safety.

Police in Sweden may not be familiar with dealing with armed criminals on the scene. They need to get familiar, get the training, and spend som time on target practice and thinking through the procedures in such a situation.

The criminal shots fired were not okay...they were criminal and should be punished to the full extent of the law--Attempted murder, deadly forced, use of and illegal weapon whatever else. HOWEVER, the police should and DO have other considerations before using deadly force.

I live in Stockholm and police procedure in this city quite frankly scares me, and has for many years. Crimes of property seem to be a higher priority than crimes against persons.
14:37 March 7, 2012 by rohermoker
It must be remembered that the police ONLY react to a call. Their reactions come from the training they receive. the trainning is done by politiations and their lawyers. Target practice is expensive, and that is regulated by the budget provided. In average in any police shootiing situation in the US, an individuial offiicer has about a 90% miss rate in a stressed application, ie 10 officers would fire 90 rounds before a hit could be expected, ( I have been involvbed with some marksmanship trainning Here, so I do have limited experience). Combat shooting as shown on the TV, is far different in real life. Those who will write a post saying "I would do it this way- or that way-" Would most likly soil them selves far before drawing their weapon in the same situation
14:41 March 7, 2012 by EtoileBrilliant
In the UK where police firearms are the exception, any and all discharges are analysed bullet by bullet.
14:41 March 7, 2012 by sunnchilde
Has anybody else noticed that the lady cop in this picture is really beautiful? Sweden must have the most beautiful police force in the world. I wonder how many times they pull somebody over and end up getting asked out on dates?
15:14 March 7, 2012 by godnatt

How exactly are the police going to "apprehend" criminals who are shooting at them the moment they show up?

Should they simply hurl apologies and offers of higher welfare payments to them while curled up under their cars and wait for them to turn themselves in out of kindness and reason?

Must be nice living in fantasy land. Unfortunately criminals don't.
15:21 March 7, 2012 by johan rebel
That the police actually shot back is a start. Now if only they would hit their targets, then these non-native cirminals might go looking for other countries in which to commit armed robberies.
15:26 March 7, 2012 by nar klockan klamtar
There is none so blind as liberals that will not see.
15:43 March 7, 2012 by cattie

I do not live in fantasyland. I live in Stockholm. I am from California where some of the most professional criminals in the world base their businesses. I grew up in a neighborhood where I heard gunshots on a weekly basis. But you know what? When he police showed up and they usually handled highly dangerous situations without increasing the dangers to bystanders. I am highly critical of police in Stockholm because I know that there is something missing with police procedure here.

Let me be clear, I am not critical of individual police officers operating within the parameters of their given. I am critical of law enforcement policy generally and administration of justice nationally. I find that the policiticians and bureaucrats responsible foe administering public safety seem to be the ones in a fantasyland. The "that does not happen in Sweden" denial bubble. Procedures are not in place due to lack of political will to deal with the reality of growing crime.

That is why I am scared.
16:27 March 7, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ cattie

Are you suggesting that LA police would not return fire if fired upon when responding a robbery?

Some police work is staged, such as a dangerous arrest and gun or drug seizure operation, where there is time to place officers at nearby schools and businesses to keep the public safe, but in a rapid response situation when they jump out of their police vehicles and start getting shot at, it is unrealistic for them to cower and do nothing.

Furthermore there are serious safety concerns to the public when doing nothing. If the thieves are sufficiently homicidal that they carry live ammunition and attempt to kill police officers, they will also be willing to kill a nearby car owner to get their keys to make their escape, and may kill bystanders in their high speed departure from town.

Finally in this post 9/11 era, there are many terrorists who want to kill as many as possible, and what may look like an armed robbery may turn out to be a blood bath in progress. How would the police look then if they drove off to some safe distance and waited for the 'thief' to get away.

The only unfortunate aspect of this incident is the poor marksmanship under pressure of the police, and for that I agree that additional training would be helpful, but I for one do not have a problem that they responded to force with force.
17:26 March 7, 2012 by Polish-Finnish Swede
From the pictures in the local, expressen and aftonbladet you can see that the bullets hit high on the window, probably because the robbers had a Range Rover placed between themselves and the approaching police officers. I guess investigations will tell if the police responded in the right manner. Furthermore, pistols are quite lousy weapons at ranges beyond 10 m/yds. Anyway, the perps are behind bars and no one was hurt.
17:32 March 7, 2012 by cattie
I do not have a problem with the concept of a well-trained response of force. Perhaps some police forces have developed more experienced and measured practices. The police should diffuse (sometime with threat of force) a deadly force situation, not escalate it. Give Swedish officers better tools (procedural and practical) to respond to violent crime while attempting to reduce risks to the bystanders. Isn't that the challege of every police force? Swedish police may (in a way) be "rookies" in dealing with very violent armed criminals. However, the resources allocated to outfit them to deal with it professionally.

Over the last 15 years, the response of police has seemed very slow to awaken to the reality of an open-bordered Sweden and a lack of preparation for such deadly force situations. (which I attribute to a sort of "denial") Give the police the tools they need to deal with increasing violent crime. Training, practice and clear procedures and priorities increase the confidence and competence in an "under fire" situation.

Police work is a profession these skills can be learned, they do not need to re-invent the wheel. Perhaps an on-the-job cross-training in London or Berlin would be helpful, especially because of the international nature many crime networks in Europe.
18:34 March 7, 2012 by Trenatos
As usual there are lots of missing information.

Bullets hit a nearby building, we don't know the layout of the area nor the position of the police or the armed robbers firing at them.

Armed robbers fire at police, the police fire back as safely as possible to any bystanders, but they can't not fire back, they have to apprehend the armed and dangerous criminals.

As for the machine guns, that would be a task force called in when the officers came under fire, they probably never had to fire a single shot (Again, missing information in the article).

We simply lack many details from this single article.
18:45 March 7, 2012 by OUIJA
And, as usual, something is rotten, but not in Denmark. My conclussion is that the Swedish police should be trained to cope with this type os situations. If not, a tragedy is on its way and then they will say, as usual: "Everything is under control". "We are investigating who shoot first". "Fortunately, there were only five people killed". "We captured the bandits, but we are not sure if they were the ones shooting against us".
19:15 March 7, 2012 by Children Of Adam
Put them in a jail with no access to anything for at least 25 years.
20:03 March 7, 2012 by socioform
Better write the name of caught ones... just saying!
21:05 March 7, 2012 by stevo1
Good job Swedish Police, Good Job!

Maybe go do some target practice, but excellent work, I would have like to have read that all 3 robbers died of serious head wounds, but then again, baby steps LOL
22:08 March 7, 2012 by sarah02
umm...11 shots out of 16 and no mentioning if the shots that hit the gym were made by the police or not. Do policemen train much?
22:13 March 7, 2012 by anticommie
Guess your stupid gun laws are not working! Liberals wrong again.
09:44 March 8, 2012 by SecondGen

Here's a nice Chicago suburb story (most of our stories don't tell the number of shots fired);

"ROBBINS - Police are seeking a gunman who fired 25 shots at a Metra police officer as he was stopped at a traffic light in south suburban Robbins early Monday. ..." (that's at least a automatic weapon - unlike the apparent Swedish machine guns which I'm guessing use cranks)


I tend to agree, 16 seems a small number unless Swedish police officers are like Barney Fife, only carrying one bullet each.
12:33 March 8, 2012 by Polish-Finnish Swede
No SMG used. According to aftonbladet today ONE police officer emptied one mag from his handgun, reloaded and then fired four additional rounds after being shot at. The officer is now behind a desk pending an investigaten (routine after shootings).
18:56 March 8, 2012 by mafketis
Corvinus, quelle surprise!
20:49 March 8, 2012 by OUIJA
09:44 March 8, 2012 by SecondGen


Swedish police use firecrackers, not that they are firecrackers. You see, if they do not hit a target, at least they look nice up in the sky.

Swedish police is trained in China on how to handle firecrackers.
03:37 March 9, 2012 by Trenatos
Basing a negative opinion about Swedish law enforcement on just this one very flawed article is quite silly.

The facts are:

There was a break in.

Police arrived at the scene.

Robbers proceeded to open fire at the officers.

Backup was called in.

One or more officers returned fire using their handgun(s), presumably before more heavily armed and armored task team arrived.

Robbers apprehended with minimal damage to surrounding area and no personal damage to anyone.

Going from that to claiming that Swedish police is uncapable of handling these situations are quite silly.
09:39 March 9, 2012 by cattie

If one's SOLE source of information about the police in Sweden is this one article, your conclusions are understandable.

However, many of the posters here have opinions based on far more information than one single incident or article. We have news sources in Swedish. We live in Swedish cities. We have had friends and family members who have needed police assistance or were crime victims. We have witnessed events and observed police response.

Since you do not even mention where you live in your profile, I take it your opinion is the one based on ONE article.
15:58 March 9, 2012 by Britt-Marie7
The police hit windows??? Where did they do their target practice? They better practice a lot more so they can hit the right target next time. They were just lucky that they didn't hit anybody else.
16:38 March 9, 2012 by Trenatos
@Cattie; I'm Swedish, currently living in the US (Moved here 3 years ago).

And while I have both negative and positive experience with Swedish law enforcement, none of them involve shootouts or task teams.

You can't compare unrelated experience with this situation.
17:48 March 9, 2012 by skylarkpilot
Christ on a bike,,,,,,,What the hell happened to consideration of backdrop before Police start loosing off live ammo in a public place ????

Putting eleven shots through the window of a gym, and no robber actually shot ?

Were the officers blind or just particularly rubbish shots. In any event they need their guns removed until they pass some in depth re-training.

After the last story about an elk hunter who accidentally shot someone in the backdrop, this is seemingly a problem for the Swedes as a nation.

I have been in such circumstances myself, and sometimes you have to keep your finger off the trigger for a while and consider other options, like let them go and avoid a gunfight at the OK corral from developing in public.

A robbery is cash and jewels, insured I suspect. Potentially killing an innocent person in a gym for this is unacceptable behaviour from a force expected to protect the public.
09:01 March 10, 2012 by Borilla
@ karex & cattle

Good points and simply enforces my belief that Stockholm police (Swedish police in general) have never progressed beyond being village police.

@ skylarkpilot, et al

Police were responding to shots fired at them, not initiating the battle. They had every right to do so. The fact that they can't hit the broadside of a barn is the fault of a public that does not demand better from its police.
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