Gunman Shoots Three Dead In Switzerland

Gunman Shoots Three Dead In Switzerland

A gunman has killed three people and injured two others after opening fire in a village in southern Switzerland.

The 33-year-old started shooting in Daillon near the city of Sion on Wednesday night, using a historic Swiss military rifle and a hunting rifle.

He fired around 20 shots, instantly killing three women aged 32, 54 and 79 and injuring two men aged 33 and 63, according to officials.

Terrified residents drinking in nearby bars when the shots rang out hid in the dark to avoid being caught up in the attack.

The gunman had started shooting from his apartment down onto the street and at neighbouring buildings before emerging.

Police rushed to the scene shortly after 9pm when witnesses reported several people were lying on the ground.

The man, who has not been named, was shot in the chest by police after he threatened officers. He was arrested and taken to hospital for treatment.

Police "immediately intervened and neutralised the suspect," a statement said. No officers were injured in the exchange.

Officials said the man had spent time in a psychiatric hospital in 2005, at which point his weapons had been confiscated.

He was unemployed, living off benefits and was being supervised by authorities in charge of providing services and counselling to the disabled.

He was also known to police as a drug user.

"We have no words to express ourselves after an event like this," said Christophe Germanier, head of the Conthey district.

The reason for the shooting has not yet been established.

Prosecutor Catherine Seppey said the gunman knew several of the victims, but "he was not known for making threats".

They were all shot at least twice in the head and chest.

Swiss media quoted local residents as saying he had been drinking heavily before the attack.

Resident Marie-Paule Udry told news website the man had been in a local restaurant and "had drunk a lot".

His two youngest victims, the woman aged 32 and man aged 33, are reported to be a couple with young children.

Forensic investigators are now at work in the picturesque village which has just 200 inhabitants and is perched at an altitude of 1,000m (3,280ft) surrounded by vineyards.

Cantonal police spokesman Jean-Marie Bornet insisted that police had only returned fire after coming under threat.

"There was an exchange of gunfire because he was threatening police officers. He was hit and wounded," he said.

"There is bewilderment and shock in Valais. This is a man who lived in Daillon and opened fire on his neighbours."

Gun ownership is widespread in Switzerland, where the law allows any citizen aged over 18 to possess arms under certain conditions.

The defence ministry says there are some two million weapons in private hands among the country's estimated eight million inhabitants.

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