18 06 2008

Ylitornio killer left farewell letter for his remaining three children

Gun licences not subject to age restrictions

Helsingin Sanomat

18 June 2008

http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Ylitornio+killer+left+farewell+letter+for+his+remaining+three+children/1135237255887

The 88-year-old veteran who shot and killed his two mentally disabled adult daughters, his wife, and finally himself on Sunday also had three other children, for whom he left a farewell note.

According to police, the letter was found in the man’s home and its content deals with family matters. The motive for the killings cannot directly be deduced from the letter.

The man shot his victims with a Russian-made handgun and himself with a sawn-off shotgun.

The man did not have a licence for the Russian revolver, which he had presumably brought back as a souvenir from the Second World War. The firearm certificates for the shotgun were in order.
     
The tragedy started on Sunday afternoon, when the old man killed his 49-year-old disabled twin daughters at his home.

The daughters lived in a nursing home and visited their parents during the weekends.

According to the police, the victims had been shot in the head from close range. One of the women had been killed on the bed, the other one on the sofa. There were no signs of struggle.

After having killed his daughters, the old man drove to the Ylitornio Health Centre, where his 82-year-old wife was a bed patient.

According to police, the man fired one or two shots in the health centre. His wife was hit in the head and was subsequently rushed to the Oulu University Hospital by a medical helicopter. She later died of her injuries.
     
With the wife in the same room there was also another patient, who presumably saw the incident.

The police were alerted to the shooting at the health centre at 14.45 on Sunday afternoon. A unit arrived at the scene within three minutes, but the man had already left.

From the health centre the man fled back home by car. Police followed him there, a distance of around 10 kilometres, and shortly afterwards the officers heard a single gunshot from the house.

Police officers then found the man and his daughters dead inside the building.

Before the man killed himself the police managed to reach him briefly by telephone but the man terminated the call quickly.

The police are looking into the incident as a triple murder. According to the local chief of police Seppo Kinnunen, the shooter’s actions were showed specific intent, and presented little danger to outsiders.
     
When interviewed, the locals have described the man as extrovert, helpful and “very family-oriented”.

The motive for the killings remains unclear.
     
The licence to bear arms cannot be cancelled on grounds of the advanced age of the permit holder, explains superintendent Liisa Timonen of the Ministry of the Interior Lottery and Gun Control Unit. A successful applicant’s licence to bear arms is usually granted “until further notice”.

The permit can be revoked by the police, if the person commits a violent crime, a drug offence, or a firearms offence.

A negligent way of life, mental health problems, and memory illnesses also affect the granting of a gun licence.

With regard to supervision, proactiveness is called for from the authorities. Doctors, for one, are not obligated to inform the police if, say, a gun licence holder’s health has weakened.

The law on firearm licences will be revised within the next two years to comply with EU directives.

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