A shooting in southern Switzerland left three women dead, two men wounded and raised questions about how a troubled suspect was able to go on a rampage with an old military rifle.
The shooting — which came on the eve of students’ return to classes in Newtown, Conn., after a horrific school shooting — also highlighted the easy access to firearms in gun-loving nations.
The suspect, a 33-year-old unemployed man living on disability payments, fired about 20 shots Wednesday night in the village of Daillon, authorities in the Swiss canton (state) of Valais said Thursday.
He opened fire from his apartment and pursued people in the street, police said. Armed with a Swiss military rifle and a handgun, he then threatened to shoot the officers sent in to stop him, police said.
“The shooter pointed his weapon at our colleagues, so they had to open fire to neutralize him, to avoid being injured themselves,” police spokesman Jean- Marie Bornet told Swiss radio.
The suspect, who police did not identify, was arrested and taken to the hospital with serious wounds. Bornet said he lived in Daillon but the motive for the shooting was unclear.
Guns are popular among the Swiss — the Alpine country has at least 2.3 million weapons among a population of less than 8 million.
Many rural areas have gun clubs, with children as young as 10 taking part in shooting competitions.
The suspect was using a military rifle that once was standard issue in the Swiss army, interim cantonal police chief Robert Steiner said.