Prosecutor seeking life for Lihula shooter

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Pärnu County Court Source: Google Maps

The prosecutor's office said Monday it is seeking a life sentence for a man who killed two and injured three during a shooting spree in Pärnu County last summer.

The prosecutor made the statement during summing-up at Pärnu County Court, in respect of Mikk Tarraste, 33, who carried out the double homicide near the village of Lihula in June 2020.

Tarraste is charged with murder; the firearms used in the attack were legal, BNS reports, though illegal types of ammunition were found in the course of the investigation, both at the summer house he fled to near Lihula, following the attack, and at his Tallinn home.

Gardi Anderson, senior prosecutor at the West District Prosecutor's Office, said Monday that Tarraste's guilt had been proven, meaning he should be punished to the full extent of the law.

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

"Due to his training in weapons and medicine, he knew full well what consequences shooting at people can bring," Anderson went on. Tarraste is a former member of the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit). 

"It is difficult to determine the circle of injured parties in this criminal case. Humanely speaking, it was not just those people who were physically struck by rounds fired that were the injured party. The rounds could have 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," she added.

According to the statement of charges, on the evening of June 6 2020, while under the influence of alcohol and in violation of the Weapons Act, Tarraste conveyed firearms in his passenger car and then precipitated a traffic accident at a gas station near Lihula, Pärnu County.

The accused then fled the scene in an attempt to conceal these lesser violations, but shot a motorcyclist who had pursued him, plus two passenger vehicles carrying nine people between them.

The motorcyclist was killed and one of the cars was hit; however, the passengers in that vehicle did not sustain any injuries

Tarraste is reported to have proceeded along the Tuudi-Raudtee road towards his farm and then repeatedly fired off rounds at another car which had the ill fortune to have been driving in his direction.

A woman passenger, seated in the back seat, was killed, and two children sustained severe injuries. The male driver of the vehicle was also injured.

Tarraste allegedly continued firing at the vehicle even after it had stopped and its occupants were incapacitated, and also opened fire on by-standers and the police, once they arrived, before proceeding on foot in the same direction he had been driving.

Tarraste is charged with having opened fire on police officers further along the Tuudi-Raudtee road, in the vicinity of a nearby rail station.

The prosecutor's office says the killing of two, serious wounding of four and endangering the lives of many others had been intentional, despite having been found to be under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs after being arrested.

Monday's summing up by the prosecutor's office is to be followed by that from defense attorney Runno Roosmaa.

Tarraste, if found guilty, may be liable for up to a prison sentence from eight to life for manslaughter, with up to three years' jail time, or alternatively a fine, for the firearms infringements. The prosecutor's office as noted is seeking life imprisonment.

Tarraste accepted his guilt to the shootings when the trial opened in February, including in civil actions brought against him, though pleaded not guilty to his attempts to conceal any crimes or flee the scene.

He has demonstrated remorse and issued a public apology, which he has subsequently reiterated, BNS reports.

The hearing continues.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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