Five people were found dead in northern Switzerland in what appears to have been a family dispute just a month after the suspected gunman’s home was searched for weapons, police said on Sunday.
A 36-year-old Swiss father of three appears to have shot and killed his parents-in-law (58 and 57), his brother-in-law (32) and a bystander (46) before turning the gun on himself in Würenlingen, Aargau, a community of about 4,500 along the Aare River near Germany.
It seems that the man, who was separated from his wife and three children and lived in another part of Switzerland, killed his in-laws inside their home and then shot a male neighbour and himself outside, head of the Aargau cantonal police, Michael Leutpold, told a news conference. The identities were not made public.
Leutpold specifically ruled out terrorism in the incident. Neighbours heard several gunshots then alerted police at around 11pm on Saturday. The local prosecutor’s office also has opened an investigation.
The man did not have a gun licence and the weapon was not issued by the Swiss Army, police captain Markus Gisin told reporters. (Many households in Switzerland have military rifles that men keep at home following their compulsory military service.) But the man’s home in canton Schwyz had been searched for weapons only a month earlier. The police did not elaborate on the reason.
Domestic violence in Switzerland
In Switzerland, domestic violence between couples or other related persons accounts for more than a third of violent crime registered in police statistics, according to the latest police crime data from 2011.
High domestic violence rates in Switzerland were one of the top concerns expressed by other nations reviewing the alpine nation’s human rights record in 2012. The review – part of a routine assessment required of all UN members – noted the prevalence of attacks carried out by family members.
Violent assault inflicted within a partnership became a criminal offence in 2004. Earlier this year in an effort to see more perpetrators of domestic violence brought to justice, the Swiss cabinet proposed giving prosecutors more discretion to pursue criminal proceedings without a victim’s complaint.
The multiple shootings in Würenlingen, northwest of Zürich, occurred near another one in the same community in 1985. That incident involved another Swiss father of three, who had been recently divorced. In 1989, the Swiss real estate agent was convicted of the triple murder of two prostitutes and the husband of a former lover.