Swiss town stunned as factory worker runs amok and shoots two dead
Factory worker shocks colleagues by opening fire in canteen, killing two, wounding seven
A man killed two workmates and wounded seven when he opened fire in a Swiss factory yesterday, rocking the small community where the plant is.
The gunman, who also died, had worked for more than 10 years at the Kronospan wood panel plant in Menznau, near Lucerne.
He had no record of making trouble, police said, but workmates said he may have been suffering from mental problems since last year.
The man, 42, who was not identified by name, launched his assault with a handgun at 9am in the plant's canteen. Police said he appeared to have aimed deliberately at his victims, rather than spraying shots at random.
Of the seven wounded, six were in a serious condition.
Three helicopters evacuated four of the wounded to neighbouring hospitals. Police would not say how the shooter died and added they were waiting for the results of an autopsy.
"We still don't know what his motives were," Lucerne's police chief Daniel Bussmann said.
Some Swiss media claimed the gunman had fallen out with his bosses, with a local newspaper reporting that Kronospan had last week announced it was cutting production.
Owned by Austrian group Kronospan, the factory is the top employer in Menznau, giving jobs to about 400 people in the community of almost 2,600.
Kronospan said the cut to production was the result of a wood shortage due to bad weather, and that there had been no threat to jobs. "We said on several occasions that there would be no layoffs," company director Mauro Capozzo said.
He said the gunman was known as a very calm individual. "We can't understand what happened," he said.
Board member Urs Fluder said the plant had been left reeling. "We're all in shock. We'll do everything we can to help the victims' loved ones," he said.
The national daily Blick said the gunman was a family man who worked as a machine operator at the plant. Another paper quoted an unnamed colleague as saying the man's behaviour over recent months suggested he was having mental problems.
"He changed last year. He talked to himself and he'd change the subject completely in mid-conversation, so you could barely talk to him," the colleague said.
The colleague said the gunman had in the past practised kickboxing, but said he had never shown any aggression. "He was weird, but we'd never have thought it would come to this," he added.
Switzerland has a longstanding tradition of gun ownership, rooted in the fact that the bulk of its military are reservists, rather than professionals.
The country ranks third in the world for the number of guns per inhabitant, after the United States and Yemen.