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Gunman Kills Five, Including Former Girlfriend, In Finnish Mall Shooting Spree

Gunman Kills Five, Including Former Girlfriend, In Finnish Mall Shooting Spree

On New Year’s Eve, I’m sorry to discuss such heartbreaking news, but this latest story out of Finland just makes me hope for better in the new year.  Earlier today, a gunman shot dead his former girlfriend and four of her work colleagues, who worked in a supermarket in a mall.  Ibrahim Shkupolli, the shooter, then turned the gun on himself; his body was found close to the scene.

This act of violence is one of several over the past few years in Finland, where gun crime is an increasingly serious issue and gun ownership is widespread.  Licenses are apparently very easy to obtain.  It appears, however, that this particular crime was sparked by what AFP is calling a “domestic dispute.”  Shkupolli had previous convictions for violent crimes, and his former girlfriend, who was found dead in her apartment, had a restraining order against him.  It’s unclear whether she was killed before or after the mall shooting.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking back over this year, and of course the news of this crime brought the George Sodini shootings immediately to mind.  If you are fortunate enough to have forgotten these horrific events from last summer, I’ll briefly refresh your memory: Sodini walked into an all-female aerobics class and opened fire, killing three women, wounding nine others, and finally turning the gun on himself. Sodini’s blog revealed deep misogyny and frustration toward all women. Basically, he believed that all of the “desirable single women” in the country were systematically and deliberately rejecting him. And he turned that frustration into a murderous rage toward a room full of women he had never met.

The victims in the Finland shooting were not all women, and Shkupolli’s motivation for killing his former girlfriend’s colleagues seems vague as of now.  But the fact that his ex-girlfriend had a restraining order against him seems like good evidence that some kind of abuse was going on, and Shkupolli, like many men before him, turned to violence for some kind of revenge.  The BBC profile of Shkupolli reveals that this relationship had lasted for some time, even though he was married to a woman of Albanian background (Shkupolli was a Kosovo Albanian), and had a family with her.

The BBC reports that Shkupolli appears to have married his wife after moving to Finland and meeting the Finnish woman who was one of today’s victims and remains yet unnamed, with whom he maintained a relationship throughout.  However, it appears that the relationship broke down last year.  Since then, she went to the police several times to make complaints about his behavior, including threats on her life.  They responded by issuing a restraining order, which barred Shkupolli from approaching her as well as entering the place where she worked – the supermarket where he killed four employees today.

The fact that shootings like this keep occuring in Finland is something that I sincerely hope their government wil examine.  But I think this shooting illustrates something bigger – the extent to which men feel they can go to possess women, to threaten them, and finally, to exact revenge against them when they resist. 

After the Sodini shooting, Bob Herbert wrote an amazing column for the New York Times about the extent to which misogyny is sewn into our culture, so that we have to be slapped in the face with violent crimes before we can see its depths.  Herbert wrote, “We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected. We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment.”

We should all remember this as we go into the new decade.  We should celebrate the accomplishments of the 2000′s – but remember that we still have far to go.

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Photo courtesy of shioshvili's Flickr Photostream.

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80 comments

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8:54AM PDT on Apr 21, 2010

Don't remember the names of the preps...Keep the victims name in your memory instead!

4:07AM PST on Jan 10, 2010

If it was so easy for people here to have fire arms this would happen all the time!

2:34AM PST on Jan 4, 2010

This type of thing is awful-we should be looking out to stop these things before they happen, if possible.

6:10PM PST on Jan 3, 2010

Of course this is an act of violence not to be condoned. However, we don't know the whole story and it doesn't look like it was a crime against women in particular, as there were men among the victims, too. I do not agree with women who blame men for everything. There are some very violent and dangerous women in this world as well. Women tend to commit different types of crimes, which are usually planned and calculated. Men would use physical force, while women (that way inclined) are good at emotional blackmail. They may also harm another woman out of jealousy rather than a man. People like the Glenn Close character in "Fatal Attraction" do exist. Men don't always notice the danger of a potential "bunny boiler" until it's too late. Domestic violence "the other way around" is becoming more frequent, too.

1:09PM PST on Jan 3, 2010

"We should all remember this as we go into the new decade. We should celebrate the accomplishments of the 2000's - but remember that we still have far to go."

Agreed.

12:13PM PST on Jan 3, 2010

Parent failure is a biggy in this. So when the parents fail to teach respect of all life then what? Now we women are stuck in this crossfire so to speak. I am ready to move to a planet with no violence. Violence in this world has crossed the line! It needs to end but unfortunately until the human race is almost wiped out I don't see it happening. Too many angry men running the world not enough balance or ying and yang.

12:09PM PST on Jan 3, 2010

I agree with Koo.

9:18AM PST on Jan 3, 2010

Both my father and my mother taught me that it is wrong to commit any type of violent act against a woman ( or a man for that matter) unless it was to protect my life or my family . And, yes, I own several guns basically for target shooting (and for protection). I hope the day never comes where I have to use a gun for protection. I do know that I would not kill an intruder unless that was the only option to save my life and the lives of my loved ones. As I have said in previous posts, our local police response time doesn't give me any protection and I was told by them that it is my responsibility to protect myself and my family until they get here.

9:03AM PST on Jan 3, 2010

Fran,
I went and got the information for you about the ratio of men to women who commit violent crimes. I could not find any current data, the latest data that I found from the 1990's was 7.1 committed by males for each one committed by females.
Society has created this monster by devaluing human life and respect for others' rights and property. Many parents don't seem to think it is important to teach their children the value of human life, and to respect other people and their property any more. Manners have gone out the window. Morals have declined drastically, and the way to settle a dispute has become violence rather than intelligent discourse and debate.
Even though I don't agree with everyone on all subjects, I still respect their views and was brought up to respect others' rights and human life.

6:22AM PST on Jan 3, 2010

Now some ppl are going to say ban guns they are evil blah blah blah....I own 3 and never shot at anything but targets......as for what happened....The law is at fault for not protecting this woman. So many ppl break restraining orders but yet nothing happens to most....I had a ex boyfriend in high school that was harassing me with phone calls at all hours of the night to the point my dad called the police and we got a restraining order. The guy broke the restraining order several times.. and my dad called the cops and they said unless he is doing something that will harm me or kill me they were not going to do anything about it but put it on record.....My dad worked nights but he took a night off and parked at a friends house and came back to the house.....ex shows up and starts beating on the door saying rude things to me.....dad opens door points a .357 mag in his face and said if you come on my property again your going to be a dead mofo......guy pisses his pants runs and calls the cops on my dad....dads reply was since your not going to do your job and protect my daughter I am.....they threatened to put him in jail and he said go ahead i will be out by morning and will get ahold of a attorney.... needless to say they got on their tail ends and put my ex in jail and when he got out he never bugged me again......Don't mess with a dad that has a teenage daughter that also has a gun lol. So sad that this girl lost her life though.

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