Police chief: Lihula shooter was given a weapons permit too easily

PPA chief Elmar Vaher.
PPA chief Elmar Vaher. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Director General Elmar Vaher said that the Lihula shooter was given a weapons permit too easily in 2017.

On Saturday at 10 p.m. in Pärnumaa's Lääneranna municipality, a 32-year old man shot at five people, killing two. Two of the three other victims were injured and taken to hospital, two of whom were children. Vaher spoke about the incident on ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Sunday night.

This is an unbelievable situation and looks to be taking even further turns in the process. Let's talk about what was found in the shooter's car.

Truly, the crime committed is a horrific one. My deepest condolences to those close to the victims and we hope for the best that the young children will heal rapidly.

Our night has been quite busy. We have had to conduct a thorough operation in the woods because we had reason to believe two people were also taken hostage. We can now confirm that the shooter was not able to take any hostages.

We have done many searches and the interrogation is in process now. We have found many firearms and a lot of ammo.

Did you find the ammo and firearms in his car? Was he using different guns episodically, there were three different episodes - the motorcyclist, the family and then shooting at the police.

The shooter had four guns in total and had three with him. We have recovered all firearms, one of them was in his car and two were hidden in the woods. We have recovered those.

Why did he do it? I understand that the interrogation is taking place, but do you have any idea?

As a policeman and former detective I can't fathom the actions. What went through is head is incomprehensible.

We know he was under the influence of alcohol, but were there any other substances involved?

It has become clear that he had consumed alcohol and a substance identification test showed us that he had also consumed sedatives and narcotics.

The police made it to the scene of the crime in 45 minutes because there is no police point in Lihula and the patrol had to come from Pärnu, 56 km away. Is there a need for more police in rural regions?

The first call we received was at 9.45 p.m. Around 10 p.m. a call was made specifying that it was indeed a shooting. Our units were there in 25 minutes. Considering that Lihula is a safe place, the closest patrol car came from Pärnu and we can be pleased with the response.

People are outraged that the shooter still had a valid weapons permit, even though he has had previous violations. This will now be a heated discussion, but what do you think about it?

My estimation, in the year 2020, is that he should not have been given a weapons permit in 2017. Although legislation did not specifically rule out giving the permit, the law says that lifestyle has to be assessed. Unfortunately, that assessment was not done in 2017 and the permit was given to him too lightly.

Taking this case and the recent case of a woman shooting her husband who was a gun instructor, should we be looking at making changes to the Weapons Act?

I think that people who have previously committed a violent crime or a crime related to firearms or explosives should never be given a permit to handle or own a firearm.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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