Prosecutor's office accusing Lihula shooter of murder

The Lihula shooter being taken into custody.
The Lihula shooter being taken into custody. Source: Still from a video | Verner Vilgas/ERR

Estonia's West District Prosecutor's Office has charged Mikk Tarraste, 32, with murder committed in a manner which is dangerous to the public and with unlawful handling of ammunition.

The charge statement says Tarraste, on the evening of June 6, while under the influence of alcohol and in violation of the Weapons Act, carried firearms in his passenger car and caused a traffic accident at a gas station near Lihula in Parnu County. He subsequently fled the site of the accident in an attempt to conceal said violations, and shot a motorcyclist who had followed him and two passenger cars in which there were altogether nine people. The motorcyclist was killed and one of the cars was hit; however, the passengers in the vehicle did not sustain any injuries.

"He shot the motorcyclist and the cars following it in an attempt to conceal the misdemeanors committed and to make it back to his farm unhindered," prosecutor Gardi Anderson said.

The bullets fired in the direction of the cars moving away from the scene crossed the public road, and one of them hit a wall of the Lihula rescue squad building.

Tarraste then began moving along the Tuudi-Raudtee road towards his farm and repeatedly shot at a Zhiguli passenger car driving in his direction. A man in the vehicle was injured, two children in the back seat sustained life-threatening injuries and a woman was killed in the passenger seat.

The accused continued shooting at the stopped Zhiguli passenger car and the paramedics, next of kin and police officers who had arrived at the scene. The man then continued on foot along the Tuudi-Raudtee road until reaching the Tuudi railway station, where he opened fire at police officers, hitting one of them in the helmet.

"It is difficult to determine the circle of injured parties in this criminal case. Humanely speaking, it was not just the people who were physically hit by bullets that were the injured party. The bullets could've hit anyone in the area. Survival would have been a matter of chance in this case. This is what the concept of a manner which is dangerous to the public means in the statement of charges," the prosecutor said.

The killing of two people, injuring of four and endangering of countless people had been deliberate, according to the prosecutor's office. 

"Due to his training in weapons and medicine, he knew well what consequences shooting at people can bring," Anderson said. "Every aspect of his behavior indicates that he deliberately killed, injured and endangered people."

When apprehended, Tarraste was found to have been under the influence of alcohol and tranquilizers. Being intoxicated did not prevent Tarraste from comprehending the consequences of his actions, however, according to the prosecutor's office.

The deeds which Tarraste has been charged with were committed with weapons lawfully owned by Tarraste. In the course of criminal procedure, unlawful ammunition was found at his summer house as well as at his place of residence in Tallinn, prompting the corresponding charge.

Unlawful handling of firearms or ammunition is punishable by a pecuniary punishment or up to three years' imprisonment. Manslaughter is punishable by eight to twenty years' imprisonment or life imprisonment.

The charges have been sent to court under general procedure. The start of the trial has yet to be established.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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