He murdered his ex and her lover in a bitter act of revenge. But what made their killer continue his bloody massacre at a busy shopping centre, ending innocent lives?
It was New Year’s Eve 2009, and Sello Mall in Espoo, Finland, was heaving with shoppers. When the mall opened in 2005, it was one of the largest in the region, boasting 170 stores.
Thousands of shoppers flocked there during the festive season, and, this year, more than 3,000 people had arrived early to snap up post-Christmas bargains in stores.
However, the hustle and bustle of busy shoppers was soon disrupted by deafening bangs.
But, at just after 10am, it wasn’t early New Year’s Eve fireworks. A gunman had entered the Prisma supermarket at the mall and opened fire.
Innocent people were targeted. Two were shot on the store’s first floor, and two more on the second.
The sound of piercing screams and gunshots echoed through the shopping mall. Terrified shoppers fled in every direction in an attempt to save themselves. But the killer, it seemed, was on a mission…
After killing the four victims, the gunman vanished, and a manhunt began…
Later that day, it emerged that the four shoppers hadn’t been the only victims.
A woman had been found dead in her apartment on the outskirts of the city.
Investigators believed she’d been the killer’s main target. Her ex-boyfriend Ibrahim Shkupolli, 43, was the man police were after, and they began their search.
Shortly after, he was found dead at his flat. He’d shot himself in a room that was empty except for a mattress and a framed photo of his ex-girlfriend.
When the bells rang in the New Year that night, the people of Espoo were in no mood to celebrate. Instead, the town mourned their dead.
But who was the gunman and what had turned him into a mass murderer?
Born in Kosovo, Shkupolli reportedly worked as a grocer before moving to Finland in 1990. It was alleged he applied for Finnish citizenship, but it was denied due to his criminal past.
In time, Shkupolli started working for a warehousing company that delivered to the Prisma supermarket chain.
It’s believed that’s where he met his girlfriend.
However, Shkupolli’s relationship was anything but straightforward. After meeting his girlfriend, he reportedly married an Albanian, and went on to have three children with her.
But Shkupolli still maintained a relationship with his girlfriend for 18 years. Theirs was a turbulent one, though, and it’s not known if Shkupolli’s wife knew about his long-running affair.
Over the years, he also had numerous run-ins with the police. In 2003 and 2007, he was fined for illegal possession of handguns.
He also had convictions for bodily harm, as well as assault.
It’s believed that Shkupolli and his girlfriend split up for good in 2008. But things didn’t end well. It was reported Shkupolli stalked his ex and bombarded her with calls.
Concerned, his girlfriend went to the police to complain about his behaviour and the numerous threats he’d made, including one to kill her.
Eventually, a court imposed a restraining order preventing him from approaching her or going to her place of work.
But the obsessed Shkupolli seemed unable to accept the relationship was over. He’d had things go his way for 18 years, he wasn’t going to let her walk away that easily.
It’s believed that his ex had started a new relationship with a colleague at the Prisma store.
Police believed Shkupolli found out and was bitterly jealous. He wanted revenge.
So had his anger reached boiling point when he picked up his gun and headed to the shopping centre?
It’s believed he went to his ex’s apartment first that day and murdered her. But his killing spree had only just begun.
Shkupolli then made his way to Prisma at the Sello Mall, where a man, said to be the woman’s new lover, was shot twice in the head by Shkupolli.
His other three victims were all workers at Prisma, too. Police couldn’t be sure if they were killed at random or if Shkupolli had a motive for hunting them down and killing them, too.
‘The fact all victims were employees of the same Prisma store seems to indicate that we’re not dealing with a coincidence,’ an investigator told the Press.
Yet many believe the victims were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Nobody will ever know the truth. In killing himself, Shkupolli took those answers to the grave.