Police apprehend man suspected of killing two near Lihula gas station

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A man shot at several people on the highway near the Lihula Olerex gas station in Lääneranna, Pärnu County at around 10 p.m. on Saturday, killing two. The police have the suspect in custody.

At least another three people have been injured, the police reported.

The authorities apprehended the 32-year-old suspect at 12.40 a.m. on Sunday after an extensive police operation around Lihula.

The police received the first call to respond to an incident at the Lihula Olerex gas station at 9:40 p.m., with preliminary information suggesting a man driving a Subaru had crashed into two vehicles and rammed the wall of the gas station.

Ten minutes later, the police received information that a motorcyclist who had seen the accident was following the suspect's Subaru. A little later, reports of a shooting started coming in.

The motorcyclist was shot and died of injuries on the scene. The suspect also opened fire at a passenger vehicle carrying four - a man, woman and two young children. The woman died of her injuries in the ambulance. The two children, aged three and five, and their father are being tended to by medics. ERR's information suggests the woman was the children's grandmother.

The police said the car was simply passing by the scene and the passengers had no connection to prior incidents.

Head of the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) West Prefecture Kaido Kõplas said during a press conference on Sunday that the children have been taken to hospital in serious but stable condition. The injured man has been discharged.

Kõplas said the police responded quickly to apprehend the armed suspect.

"We cordoned off the area and closed nearby roads. The man also shot at police officers, but we managed to take him into custody at around 0040 hours near the same gas station," Kõplas said.

A police officer was shot but not injured during the shootout.

The prefect added the man's motive for shooting at people is unclear at this time.

"We do not know what motivated these actions, but I assure you the police is doing everything in our power to find out as soon as possible."

Chief prosecutor Kristine Tamm explained the man will be charged with murder and could be looking at a life sentence if convicted.

Tamm said the shooter was under the influence of alcohol. The suspect has no priors and holds a valid weapons permit. The suspect, who has worked in medicine and been a member of the Defense League in the past, lives in Tallinn and owns a summer home near Lihula.

The prosecutor added that the suspect has been investigated for misuse of a firearm in the past. Kaido Kõplas said the man improperly handled a firearm in 2007.

"These events have shocked the community. Preliminary investigative activities are being carried out as we speak and we are doing everything we can to establish the circumstances of the case as soon as possible," Tamm said.

The suspect had not been interrogated by Sunday morning.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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