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CRIME

Homeless Romanian killed in Swedish park remembered as ‘grateful and kind’

The homeless migrant who was beat to death earlier this month has been identified as a 48-year-old man from Romania known as ‘Gica’.

Homeless Romanian killed in Swedish park remembered as ‘grateful and kind’
The Huskvarna park that 'Gica' called home. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
Friends of Gica, whose real name was Gheorge Hortolomei-Lupu, are speaking out after a teenage boy was arrested on Monday in connection with his death. 
 
Iréne Linddahl, who works for local aid group Kyrkhjälpen, said she first met Gica four years ago when he came to a party hosted by her group in Huskvarna. He became regularly involved with Kyrkhjälpen’s efforts to help other homeless EU migrants in Sweden. 
 
“He was friendly, grateful and kind,” Linddahl told Aftonbladet. “He lived outdoors and primarily devoted himself to begging.” 
 
Gica’s body was discovered in a Huskvarna park earlier this month but it took police a week to determine that a murder had occurred. The police investigation then led to the teenager who was arrested on Monday. Police have also questioned two other boys in connection with the crime. Both are under the age of 15 and one is as young as 13 according to P4 Jönköping. One of the boys is suspected of assaulting the migrant on the same day as the alleged murder while the other is suspected of harassing the victim. 
 
 
Videos of the teenagers beating and harassing the 48-year-old were reportedly circulated on social media. 
 
Mikael Good, a volunteer who helped the homeless and other down-on-their-luck people in Huskvarna, also fondly remembered Gica and said he couldn’t think of any reason anyone would want to hurt him. 
 
“I was completely destroyed [by the news]. I cannot understand why anyone would do this to a weak person who couldn’t defend himself,” Good told Aftonbladet. 
 
Both Good and Linddahl said that Gica’s health had taken a serious turn in recent months and that he had lost a great deal of weight and had difficulty getting around. 
 
According to Linddahl, Gica came to Sweden roughly four years ago from a town near Bacau in Romania. He reportedly lost his job at a printing company and got divorced shortly thereafter. This upending of his life led him to leave Romania. He spent time in several other EU countries before settling in Sweden. 
 
“He probably thought people were nice here and that he had found a beautiful spot overlooking the lake and the mountains,” Good said. 
 
He worked in the Huskvarna area as a fruit picker for awhile before becoming a bottle collector and full-time beggar. 
 
Kyrkhjälpen held a memorial for Gica that was attended by roughly 50 people, including a number of other Romanians and local Huskvarna residents.
 
The investigation of the teenagers suspected of being involved in Gica’s death is ongoing. 

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CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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